Baked Penne with Cheddar & Leeks

Hi friends, are you still with me? In yesterday’s food-free post, I promised you a tasty recipe. What can be more tasty than cheese…and lots of it! Not much if you ask me. This upscale version of macaroni and cheese has plenty of cheese and a twist to boot.

Actually the twist in this dish is two-fold. For one, eggs, in lieu of a roux, are used as a thickener which creates a gooey custard. For two, the addition of sweet leeks provides the perfect counterbalance to the cheddar.  All together it takes your everyday macaroni and cheese comfort food to a whole new level of cheesy goodness. 

While it takes a little extra effort to make this dish, it is definitely worth it.  It makes enough to serve a crowd, a couple of hungry teenagers, or simply to reheat throughout the week for lunches.  Served with a side of green beans, a salad or whatever is your favorite vegetable, Baked Penne with Cheddar and Leeks is sure to become a family favorite!

Have a fabulous weekend and thank you for visiting Alida’s Kitchen!

Baked Penne with Cheddar and Leeks
Serves 8 to 10

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter  (I used light butter)

5 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only; about 5 large
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups skim milk
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated, about 4 cups packed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Fresh ground pepper
2 large eggs
1 pound penne pasta
  1. Spray baking dish with cooking spray 13 x 9 baking dish. Set aside.  Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add leeks; stir to coat. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender, stirring occasionally (about 12 minutes; do not brown).  After about 10 minutes, add minced garlic to the leeks to cook for the final 2 minutes.  
  4. Then uncover saucepan; add flour. Stir 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to simmer, stirring often. Add cheese, mustard, and pepper sauce. Stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Season cheese sauce to taste with salt. 
  5. Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 1 cup cheese sauce. Stir egg mixture into cheese sauce in saucepan.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot.
  7. Stir cheese sauce into pasta in pot. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
  8. Bake pasta until cheese sauce is bubbling around edges and some ends of pasta are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Adapted from Bon Apetit


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  1. I recently starting eating leeks due to some recipe I tried and surprisingly I do like them. This side dish looks pretty tasty-I will need to make this. Yum!

  2. Awesome! Pasta+Cheese=delicious! 😀

  3. What a great pasta dish, this look incredible!! 🙂

  4. Alida, great looking mac and cheese with a twist! Especially good because of fresh leeks at the farmers market. Great recipe!

  5. This looks delicious! I love leeks so I bet they made a tasty addition!

  6. Great use of eggs to make it creamy! Looks like pure comfort in a bowl!

  7. Ooh, I love the twist of using the egg to thicken the mixture. Absolute scrumptiousness 🙂

  8. What a great combo. Looks yummy!

  9. This sounds like a great combination. I like baked pasta dishes and this is a new spin that I’ve not tried before, love it!

  10. Oh this sounds super yummy. I love the idea of baking the leeks in with the pasta. Is it bad that I want to add bacon and panko and eat the whole thing by my self? LOL

  11. It’s a grown up mac n cheese!

  12. Thank you, Alida, for the nice recipe. Have a Great Weekend!