(Moving towards) No Bags or Boxes

Monday, February 28, 2011

I love my friend Stacy’s mother’s food mantra: no bags or boxes.

It’s a goal I strive for, and habitually fall short of, thanks in large part to one culprit: Mac n Cheese. My son is addicted, it is so easy to just use a box, and Annie’s doesn’t contain chemical dyes (I am terrified of red dye and the correlation with ADD).

I’ve found a couple of likely (baked) Mac’n’cheese recipes,and this weekend I bought the required ingredients. And then, on a whim, I made us a bowl of what my husband calls “Mama macky cheese” (bad faux Italian-American accent). Also known as Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe. I think he is right, it must be the original Mac’n’Cheese.

To my surprise, it was a huge hit (I don’t usually think of Pecorino as baby cheese).So much faster than baked Mac n’Cheese, really, just as fast as Annie’s. One more box down.

Mama Mac’n’Cheese
1 lb pasta. Traditionally people use spaghetti, but I like it with penne or rigatoni-- also easier for little toddler hands.
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
3/4 c finely grated Pecorino Romano OR 1 cup Parmesan
3⁄4 c finely grated Cacio de Roma (soft Pecorino) OR 1 c mild cheddar
Plus more cheese to serve.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, drain pasta, reserving 1 cup water.

Meanwhile, heat oil and in a large/deep skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and toast for about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup pasta water into skillet and cook off a little. Add a pasta, stir. Add hard cheese, stir. Add softer cheese, stir. This should all take about 2 minutes. Add more water if necessary-- gummy isn’t good.
Serves 4.

1 comment:

Jess said...

We were *just* having a conversation similar to this yesterday - trying for less processed foods in general. Can't wait to try this recipe - we too love Annie's, but would love to have a fresher option!