1 lb elbow pasta (I also love using cavatappi for this recipe)
1/2 c butter
1/3 c flour (I used all purpose)
4 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c water
1/2–1 T salt, to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
6 c shredded cheese, any combination (I used a combination of sharp cheddar and unexpected cheddar from Trader Joe’s)
For the breadcrumb topping:
3 T butter
2/3 c panko breadcrumbs (Japanese style breadcrumbs)
2 T fresh parsley, plus more as garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 9 x 14 in casserole dish.
Add uncooked pasta and 2 cups cheese to greased casserole dish and toss to combine; set aside.
Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue whisking for about a minute until no clumps remain. Then slowly whisk in milk and water, and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until sauce has thickened up a bit. Stir in 3 cups shredded cheese and continue stirring until melted.
Pour cheese sauce all over the tops of the uncooked pasta, and using your spoon, push down so that all pasta is completely submerged in the liquid. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt remaining 3 T butter. Add in garlic, parsley, and breadcrumbs and toss to combine. Cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly toasted and golden; set aside.
When pasta is done cooking, remove foil, top with remaining 1 cup of cheese and then the garlic breadcrumb mixture. Bake uncovered for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until golden.