Well hello from 2014! I realize there has been radio silence from my end since the start of this new year. Honestly, I was debating what my obligatory resolutions would be. I still really don't know but I have a giant list & have definitely been inspired by BexLife's list. When I figure it out I'll let you know. What's yours?
In any event, the start of the new year makes me want to be a better person - by bettering my relationships & trying new things. Right before the holidays I was spoiled by some much needed girl time with some of my best friends. We visited The Celler at Beecher's in NYC (twice for some of us in a week's time) & all agreed that their kale, mama lil's peppers mac & cheese was worthy of multiple repeat orders during the same dinner (!!!). So naturally, I wanted to try to recreate it at home & I think I came pretty close. It's not baked but rather more of a macaroni with cheese sauce which means less cooking time - yay! Plus, if you're skipping out on carbs this year (or first full week of 2014 at least until you realize that is for the birds) you could probably just make the cheese sauce (although there is a tiny amount of flour in it) & pile it on top of steamed broccoli or spaghetti squash for a low-carb option. Try it yourself & see what you think.
- 1 lb short cut pasta, I used a super twirly kind but they use penne at beeches
- 1 package of fresh pre-washed baby kale, about 6 cups
- 5 cherry whole cherry pepper tomatoes, stemmed, seeded & sliced (I used hot, you can also buy these sliced already if you want to save time)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk, organic if you can
- 2-3 cups grated parmesan cheese, more if you want more cheesey-ness
- salt & pepper
- fresh basil, julienned for garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Prepare your peppers if you haven't purchased the pre-sliced kind. Be sure to wash your hands afterwards & to avoid touching your eyes - that pepper juice can hurt - ouch!
- In a medium sized pot*, melt the butter & flour together until it becomes paste-like over medium heat. (*note: the pot that appears in my photos is probably too small so learn from my mistake & use a larger one!)
- After the butter & flour have combined well whisk in milk. Season with salt & pepper. (Note: if you've used salted butter you probably don't need to add much salt at all.)
- At this point I would salt your boiling water & cook the pasta. When it about a minute or two from being al dente or cooked to your liking, add the kale. I know this may seem like you have to tell the future but just taste the pasta after about 7 minutes - basically you want to cook the kale for the last two minutes that the pasta is cooking without dirtying another pot.
- Continue to stir the butter, flour, milk mixture until it thickens about 5-10 minutes.
- Once the mixture has thickened whisk in some of the cheese a little bit at a time until the whole thing has become a cheesy sauce. You can either turn the heat off at this point or keep it on very low - just continue to stir it if you're not using it right away, you don't want the bottom to burn.
- Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water. Drain pasta & kale & put it back in the same pot it cooked in or if you want to be fancy a casserole dish to serve it in.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta & kale. Mix well. If the cheese sauce makes it too gooey for you you can loosen it a little by adding a little bit of the reserved pasta water a little bit at a time until you've reached the saucy consistency you like. You may opt out of this completely but to have the option of the reserved salty starchy cooking water is a nice one to have so remember to set some aside - easier to discard it than to recreate it after the fact.
- Toss in the cherry peppers.
- Serve immediately. Top with extra Paremesan cheese (mmm cheese) & fresh basil if you desire.
|you can find these peppers usually in the same aisle as olives & other jarred items in the super market!|
|learn from my mistake - use a bigger pot or whisk carefully!|
|reserve your pasta water in something you already dirtied like a measure cup!|