Loaded mac and cheese may sound like a dinner that’s had one too many shots of Fireball around the campfire, but this meal is anything but unsteady on its feet. It’s as solid and stick-to-your-ribs as just about anything you’ll find on your plate at the campsite, so if you choose to make this one, be sure you bring a healthy appetite—and several friends who also have healthy appetites.
While my wife was growing up, she referred to this dish as “Dad’s Mac and Cheese.” The recipe can easily be adapted to personal preferences or dietary needs, or even to what is available in your pantry. It’s fantastic for using up leftover veggies, and even better, it’s always a crowd pleaser.
12 oz. of noodles (rainbow spiral noodles are a personal favorite)
4-6 links of sausage (spicy Italian is our go to, but any savory sausage will work)
1 cup fresh broccoli
1 large bunch of chopped hearty greens (chard, kale, spinach, etc.)
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, fontina, Jack, etc.).
1 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional, but do it)
salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Be sure to take your campsite location into account, because water boils sooner at higher elevations, which can make food take longer to cook. Keep this in mind, especially if you’re making dinner on a totally empty stomach and can’t wait to chow down.
Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and set aside.
Brown the sausage in the pasta pan.
Add broccoli and a couple tablespoons of water. Cook until broccoli is bright green. If you are feeling creative, add any other veggies along with the broccoli (consider mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, cauliflower, and zucchini, as all are excellent additions). Add the leafy greens and cook until they’re wilted.
Add milk and heat until it is steaming but not boiling. This is where the Spire LX’s precision heat control comes in handy.
Add cheeses and return pasta to the pan.
Stir gently until cheese is melted. You want your dairy to incorporate evenly, not clump and burn.
Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Don’t worry if the pasta is soupy when you’ve finished loading it up, because it will thicken slightly when it’s removed from the heat.
Serves six to eight. Eat and enjoy.