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 Serves: As many people as you wish, depending on appetites--we feed 3-5 people with this dish

Olive Oil

1 to 2 pounds of noodles (elbow macaroni, small shells, rigatoni, or other small shaped pasta)

3 to 6 cheeses totaling 1-1/2 to 2 pounds: any combination of Mozzarella, Feta, Cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Romano (you may use others too; these are our recommendations)

6 to 8 Shiitake mushrooms, diced

1 red, orange, or yellow sweet bell pepper, diced or cut in strips

1 to1-1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (or larger tomatoes, diced)

1 medium to large onion (red, yellow, white, or leek)

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse, drain and set aside.
3. While pasta is cooking, sauté any vegetables you wish to have precooked (peppers, onions, etc) in a large skillet or sauté pan in a little olive oil. (NOTE: the vegetables may be mixed raw into the macaroni and cheese and will cook adequately as the dish bakes. If you prefer some of these vegetables extremely well cooked, you may wish to sauté first.)
4. Dice all cheese into small cubes.
5. Oil a large (10" x 13" or thereabouts) glass baking dish. Use of olive oil sprayer is recommended.
6. Spread cooked pasta across bottom of baking dish.
7. Mix in your cheese and sauteéd vegetables. (If pan is very full, you may want to layer the pasta and cheese/vegetables. You can also mix all prepared ingredients in a very large bowl first.)
8. Season the mixture to taste. (You may do this while mixing or just top the dish with seasoning. This would also be the time to top with grated parmesan if that was one of your choices.)
9. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil.
10. Place dish in oven for about thirty minutes or until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

That's it!

This dish is one of the easiest and most fun with which to create variations. Some ideas:
1. Many combinations of cheeses may be used. Experiment and have fun!
2. Other seasonings may be used.
3. While we favor the tomato-pepper-mushroom-onion combo, you can customize your macaroni and cheese by using fewer, different, more, or no vegetables. Even with those recommended, there are variations. For example: You can combine different colored tomatoes and/or peppers for an exceptionally vivid presentation. (Heirloom tomatoes make a very bright dish.) Other mushroom varieties and assortment of onions may also be used.
4. Roasted red peppers are especially flavorful. You can purchase these preroasted or roast the fresh pepper yourself.
5. Fresh herbs such as Rosemary or Basil add a nice touch.
6. Try mixing in a little ground "meat." (See Food Brand Recommendations for good choices on veggie "meats")

This is a classic comfort-food favorite that the whole family will love!

Note: Because it's healthier for the environment as well as for people, we use only organically produced cheeses (Organic Valley and Horizon are two national brands; check for your own local brands), organically grown produce, and packaged products with organically grown ingredients. See Food Brand Recommendations for brand suggestions.

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