A Southern dish of Macaroni in a Zesty Cheese Sauce that is rich, smooth, and with just the right amount of tangy mixed with salty flavor. Oh, yum!
Macaroni and cheese is a staple side dish in the South and although it’s considered more a dish for the kids, this macaroni with zesty cheese sauce takes the beloved casserole in a different and more adult direction. I can’t imagine anyone not liking mac and cheese, and the explosion of flavor in this dish bumps the old mac and cheese to a whole new level.
The lovely pasta is cooked to al dente and dressed in a Dijon mustard parmesan sauce laced with basil. I promise you can’t taste the mustard but when combined with the basil, it adds a wonderful tanginess to the sauce. I used the liquid from the cooked macaroni to make the sauce because of the starch from the pasta that is released into the water. The liquid combined with the butter helps to melt the parmesan and as you can see in the photo above, the melted cheese is stretchy and perfect. If you find the parmesan is starting to thicken too much, just whisk in a little more of the reserved liquid.
This dish is perfect as a side for mid-week supper or perhaps when grilling burgers or steaks. In fact, it will be delicious with this grilled burger with green tomato mayonnaise. If you try this recipe, leave a comment and share the recipe on social media with a photo of your dish. Be sure to tag #southerncooked because I’d love to see your creation. Enjoy!
Macaroni in Zesty Cheese Sauce
Yield 6 side portions
Macaroni in Zesty Cheese Sauce is a Southern delicacy that is rich, creamy, and with just the right amount of tangy mixed with salty flavor.
- 1 1/2 cups dry macaroni pasta
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1/4 cup Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped or 1 Tablespoon dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and a dash of salt to water. Add macaroni and boil over medium heat about 10 to 12 minutes until al dente and set aside. Reserve 2 cups of macaroni liquid. Drain remaining liquid from macaroni.
- Melt butter in a medium-size pan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add half of cheese and whisk continuously. Cook two minutes, add mustard and half of reserved liquid, stirring constantly. Add remaining cheese, nutmeg, and dried basil. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. Add more liquid if needed. Remove from heat.
- Pour sauce over macaroni and toss well. Serve immediately.
Variation: Add chicken or shrimp.
Substitution: Pecorino Romano cheese may be exchanged for Parmesan.
Courses Side dish
Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 21.8 g
Saturated Fat 12.5 g
Cholesterol 50 mg
Sodium 734 mg
Total Carbohydrates 16.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.9 g
Sugars 0.7 g
Protein 8.1 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.