This weekend I tried to make pasta for the first time. The recipe was deceptively easy – mix flour and salt in mound on a cutting board, then crack eggs in mound and slowly mix with hands.
From the first egg it was a disaster. I guess my mound was more of a plateau, and egg started running all over the counter, and I had to start mixing it really fast. And it was so sticky! (That probably should have been my first clue).
After the dough sat, I aimed to roll it out. “Who needs a pasta maker?” I said to myself. “Italian grandmothers used wine bottles to roll out pasta*!” So I sat out with my rolling pin, heaps of flour, and some butternut squash filling.
Erm. The dough was really hard to roll out, and I ended up with 2 inch by 2 inch very thick squares of pasta with probably a drop of filling. I dropped the little buggers into boiling water anyways, thinking maybe they would become more like ravioli I recognized.
Not so. My roommates looked nervously at the small bricks on their plates. I tried to alleviate the matter with lots of thyme butter, but the fact remained this was a dinner FAIL.**
So I’m not posting that recipe. Instead, I’m posting a recipe that I love, that is comforting and delicious and I should be able to make with my eyes closed, but still crack open my How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
*That may or may not be true.
** And no, you totally don’t get pictures of it.
Baked mac and cheese (and bonus rosemary-apricot pork tenderloin)
- 2 1/2 c. milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lb elbow or shell pasta
- 4 tbl. (1/2 stick) butter
- 3 tbl. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 c. grated cheese (I love cheddar)
- 1 tsp. c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/2 c. or more bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Boil water for pasta. Use 1 tbl of the butter or cooking spray to coat a 9×13 baking pan.
- Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until small bubbles appear on the side. Let cook 5 more minutes, watching closely, and then take off the burner.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse.
- In a large saucepan (I usually use the same one the pasta cooked in) over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. When foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. After removing bay leaves from the milk, add the milk slowly to the flour mixture while stirring. Keep adding the milk and stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add the grated cheese. Once melted, turn off the heat.
- Add the cooked pasta and salt and pepper to the sauce, then transfer to baking pan. Add mixture of grated Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes.
BONUS ROUND! We also made this delicious pork dish, and since it is in the picture, I thought I would add the recipe too.
- 2 tbs. Dijon mustard
- 2 tbs. apricot jam
- 1 lb. pork tenderloin
- 1/3 c. dried apricots, chopped
- 1 tbl. fresh rosemary, chopped
- Cooking string (or thread in a pinch)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Mix mustard and jam in small bowl. Cut the tenderloin lengthwise all the way through. On the inside cutes, spread ½ of the mustard jam-mixture and fill with dried apricots. Sprinkle with rosemary
- Put the two pieces of the pork together and tie with cooking string (place every couple of inches). Spread the rest of the mustard-jam mix on the outside of the pork and add rest of rosemary.
- Cook on baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray for 30 minutes. Cut thread before serving.