I’m a strong believer in comfort food. And most of the time I’m good at making healthy comfort food choices. Chicken noodle soup with bean thread noodles instead of egg noodles? Yah! Pasta with zucchini noodles rather than the standard fetachinni? Sure! Carrot and rutabaga mash instead of potatoes? You bet! But when it comes to good-‘ole Mac-N-Cheese, nothing beats the real thing. Especially when it’s made from scratch. And with three out of my four Littles down with colds, today was the perfect day to whip up a batch. Welcome to Sunday at my house, where comfort food cures what ails ya.
1/2 package of standard noodles—shape of your choice
1/2 cup butter
1 cup whole milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
bread crumbs (optional)
In a standard quart pan, boil noodles of your choice. (1/2 a standard box makes 4 good-size servings). I always go with medium shells because they are just the right size and weight to hold up under the hearty cheese sauce. Boil noodles until al dente and drain. Set aside.
Return quart sauce pan to burner (no sense in dirtying a second pan!) and melt 1/2 cup of butter. Add 1 cup whole milk and 2 cups grated cheddar cheese. The stronger the cheese the better. Heat over medium heat until cheese melts and thickens—stirring with a whisk continuously. Heat until melted but do not boil. The sauce will separate and get kind of granular in texture if you boil it. (There’s nothing wrong with it if this happens, it’s just not as smooth to the pallet). Add drained noodles and stir mixture until well-combined.
My kids like everything smooth and soft so I didn’t proceed with the final step, but if you or your tribe are good with a kind of ‘crust’ on your pasta, spoon the mac-n-cheese into a greased baking pan, top with bread crumbs and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees until top is browned and lightly crisp.
Sometimes dinner is about what you have in the fridge right now. Because everyoneisstarvingandmightdieiftheydonteatthissecond. So making a meal becomes a thing of urgency. And also odd creativity. Obviously. And out of such circumstances, this meal was born. Bonus, it serves as either dinner or breakfast!
I’m all about eggs these days. Funny, because I’ve never been an egg person. Probably because eggs are breakfast food and I am not a breakfast person. I’m a coffee person. Anyway.
Eggs. For dinner. Magic.
And so, for your urgent dinner needs:
SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND PESTO PASTA SKILLET WITH BAKED EGGS
1 lb angelhair pasta cooked el dente
3 tablespoons pesto
1 tablesoon sun-dried tomatoes (in oil so they are more of a sauce rather than a dried fruit)
1/2 fresh Parmesan (or to desired taste).
salt and pepper to taste
optional: bacon crumbles
Prepare pasta per package directions, drain and return to pot. Add pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and part. Stir in the warm pot until cheese is melty and the sauces are well combined with the pasta. Spoon mixture into a well-oiled (olive oil) cast iron skillet. Smooth out until settled and even in the pan. Using a spoon, create small “nests” in the pasta and crack one egg into each nest. Slide the whole skillet into a 375 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes or until eggs are cooked to desired preference. I like mine over-easy. Top with more parm or with bacon crumbles. Serve up to your ravenous Loves.
Summer is the season of garden glut. Gorgeous, true. But glut just the same. We have the season of strawberries and then beans. Followed by the gorge of cucumbers and tomatoes. And then of course, summer squash. And if you garden, chances are your summer is awash is all the produce. Never fear. I’m here to help. And by ‘help’ I mean I will assist you in eating. Because I’m good at eating. It’s my talent. I am particularly good at eating pasta.
And so. Here’s a recipe that brings the gorgeous glut of summer squash together with that steadfast fail-safe: pasta dinner.
SAVORY SUMMER SQUASH AND ANGEL HAIR PASTA
1 lb. Angel Hair Pasta (or other pasta shape of your choosing)
1 Tablespoon diced garlic.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 Cup raisins (golden or brown)
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
2-3 cups of zucchini
Parmesan to top
Prepare pasta as per package directions (or you can substitute whatever pasta you prefer.)
In a large stir-fry pan, brown garlic in avocado oil, or whatever oil you prefer.
Add raisins and chopped walnuts. (Even if you’re not a walnut fan—personally, I’m not—add them anyway. Their taste sweetens as they cook and they add the loveliest texture to this dish!)
Slice summer squash in half-moons and toss with the raisin mixture until just tender—you don’t want them mushy.
Heap over pasta and top with grated parmesan. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of chilled white wine.