We figured that after a weekend of camping indulgences we should probably either finish the noodle salad left-overs or detox with some healthy food. Unfortunately, neither option appealed for some reason. We wanted to:
1. Cook something new
2. Without going food shopping
3. It didn’t have to be healthy
4. It did have to be easy
This is what we came up with and we are happy to say that it fit our requirements.
Plebeian Mac and Cheese
(Serves 4 as a main course)
1 lb orecchiette (the concavity is perfect for this, but you could also use another pasta that has places to collect cheesy goodness)
12 oz. lbs sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. parmesan
1 tbsp butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Olive oil for the boiling water and the breadcrumbs
Ok, technically we have made Mac and Cheese before, it’s true, but we have always used a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. This time we used what we learned from him, what we had in our fridge, our taste buds, and our laziness.
First, Bittman taught us that Mac and Cheese works best when the cheese sauce combines a hard and soft cheese. He gives a number of fabulous options. We had cheddar and parm in our fridge and so that’s what we used. It may be less classy than Manchego and Colby Jack, but try it because it was yummy.
And not only was it yummy, it was easy. We promise.
First, pre-heat the oven to 350. Then fill a pot with water, salt, and olive oil and get it boiling.
Since a watched pot never boils, instead, use this time to grate the cheese.
Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add the buttermilk and stir. Don’t let it boil, but bring it close. Once the buttermilk is good and hot add the cheese. Once the cheese melts, add the flour one tablespoon at a time. Add the ground mustard, onion powder, and sriracha sauce. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes or so.
Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small frying pan then add the bread crumbs. These guys need to be watched carefully or they will burn. Get them toasty and then remove from heat. Add a little salt to taste.
Cook the orecchiette so that it is just shy of al dente.
Grease a 9″x9″ pyrex with olive oil. Pour half of the pasta and half of the sauce into the pyrex. Incorporate thoroughly and then grind some fresh pepper over it. In our case, we felt that the parmesan covered the salt. Add the second half of the sauce and pasta and mix in thoroughly. Grind more pepper on top.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. After twenty minutes remove the aluminum foil, sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top and put back in the oven, uncovered for 10 minutes.
We had ours with a side of lettuce and tomatoes that our landlords brought us from a farmer’s market. Yes, they are amazing and we count ourselves lucky. And if you were momentarily starting to think that this meal was sounding classy then have no fear. Those peas in that picture were frozen, not fresh, and we ate our meal while watching Tremors.