With a solid-food-eating 10 month-old, part of my meals usually go to the baby. It does motivate me to eat more fruit and vegetables, but I confess, I gots to eat cheese on the daily. Dairy is my favorite food group. Usually a sprinkle of parmesan on my eggs for breakfast, or a few cubes of cheddar on crackers at snack time suffice, but sometimes only a warm bowl of comforting, dairy-and-carb-laden macaroni and cheese will do.
Yes, mac and cheese can be had as easily as microwaving a bowl of water. But I just don’t feel right making it from a box when I can make it from scratch in the same amount of time. My version tastes better, too. Making a creamy, white bechamel sauce of roux and milk takes just a few minutes, and your options for cheese, pasta type, and toppings are endless. A couple of examples: ham and peas with gruyere on shells; spinach and mushrooms with mozzarella on cavatappi. Here, I kept it classic with broccoli and cheddar on penne. Bon appetit!
STOVETOP MAC N’ CHEESE
Prep time: 3 min Cook time: 12 minutes
Yield: 3 servings
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 c 2% milk
1 1/2 c shredded cheese (I used a mixture of mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and monterey jack)
1/2 tsp salt
1 c broccoli, washed and trimmed
1 1/2 c pasta, any shape (I used penne)
dash of paprika (optional)
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
fresh cracked pepper (optional)
- Boil pasta according to package directions. When five minutes remain, add broccoli to boiling pasta water. When time is up, drain in colander and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat.
- When butter is melted and beginning to bubble add the flour and whisk to form a roux.
- Cook roux, whisking constantly, until light brown and nutty in aroma, about 2 minutes.
- Add half of the milk and salt, and whisk until smooth in consistency. Then add remaining milk and whisk until smooth in consistency.
- Turn down heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Add shredded cheese and stir until melted. Turn off heat.
- Stir in cayenne, paprika, and cracked black pepper.
- Fold cooked pasta and broccoli into cheese sauce and serve immediately.