We boost nutrition by using whole-grain pasta, and we rev up the flavor with quick microwave-roasted garlic. We prefer whole-grain pasta over whole-wheat pasta here; the flavor of the latter is rather strong--sometimes a touch bitter--and would over-whelm the nice garlic notes.
Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Place garlic heads in a microwave-safe bowl; rub garlic heads with oil. Pour 3 tablespoons water into bottom of bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH for 4 minutes and 30 seconds or until garlic is very tender; cool slightly.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
Combine milk and flour in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened; remove from heat. Stir in salt, pepper, 1 ounce cheddar, and mozzarella.
Separate garlic cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins. Place garlic pulp and 2 cups milk mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Stir garlic mixture into milk mixture. Add pasta; stir to coat. Spoon pasta mixture into 6 (10-ounce) ramekins or gratin dishes or a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 3 ounces cheddar. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Let stand 5 minutes.
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My first attempt using whole grain pasta and I was very disappointed. the pasta's bitterness overwhelmed the dish, and my husband actually thought it tasted fishy. I used fresh grated cheddar and an Italian blend of cheese instead of mozzarella. I will not make this again. My friends who regularly eat whole grain pasta said it needed a stronger sauce like tomato based or more cheese.
Apparently we ran out of mozzarella so I used some pepper jack instead. I also oven-roasted the garlic. Whoa...very garlicky sauce. My sauce also wasn't thick enough. If I made this again, I'd reduce the milk and use only one head of garlic.
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