Middle of February. Ughh. I'm sick of winter, and I'm sick of trying to think of what to cook for dinner, night after night after night. I was driving home from work this afternoon, trying to think of what I could possibly cook - picturing the bare cupboards. Something easy, something comforting. How about homemade macaroni and cheese? That sounded ok, I wondered if I had anything else to go with it.
Veggie Laden Mac and Cheese and Winter Side Salad (serves 2-4)
- 1 handful walnuts
- 1 orange
- 5-6 d'Avignon radishes with greens
- 3-4 handfuls spinach
- 1 tsp. agave nectar or honey
- 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- soy sauce
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- sesame oil
Remove the radish tops, separating the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems. Wash the leaves and the spinach in cool water and then dry. Slice the radishes.
- 3/4 lb. whole wheat rigatone or similar pasta
- 1 small bunch chard, stems removed and discarded, leaves sliced about 1/2 in. wide
- 2 Egyptian bunching onions (substitute 3 scallions or spring onions), sliced thinly, both white and green parts
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 Tbs butter
- flour ~ 1/4 c.
- whole milk ~ 1-2 c.
- Cheddar cheese, 3 handfuls grated
- salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium low heat. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour into the butter and then beat with a wooden spoon to remove the lumps. Continue adding more flour until the mixture looks like a dry paste - it will actually start to ball up a little.Now is a good time to start the pasta and the chard. To cook the chard, heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium low heat. Throw in the chard. You can let it cook the entire time you're cooking the pasta, just toss it in the pan periodically. It will get a little crispy and chewy.
Back to the sauce - add one small ladle full of milk and mix with the spoon until absorbed. Start by slowly moving the mixture around with the spoon, increasing speed as the milk starts to absorb. Continue adding the milk, one ladle at a time, stirring (almost beating, your arm will be tired) until the sauce is runny, about the consistency of melted chocolate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the sauce gently on medium low heat for a few minutes to remove the floury taste.Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.
Remove the chard from the heat and stir in the onions, just to wilt them a bit. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.
Stir the pasta and sauce together in a bowl, holding a bit of one or the other back if it seems that the ratio isn't right (you can't remove excess pasta or sauce once you mix them together, but you can add them in if you don't have enough). Add a little of the cooking water to loosen up the mixture if it seems too thick. Finish by stirring in the chard and onions, check the seasoning and serve!