I don't know what's up with me and the comfort food lately - maybe I'm trying to fill the hole in my soul that's resulted from a lack of intellectual activity since school ended for the Summer... Maybe it's because I've been overly indulgent with the wine in the hopes of inspiring Summer patio drinking weather... Or maybe it's that I've simply felt a little stuck in a rut of Un-inspiration Sandwich (See Inspiration Sandwich by SARK - one of my favourite authors of all time, so beautiful, and not really food related at all except that the titles of many of her books include some reference to food - "Inspiration Sandwich", "Eat Mangoes Naked", "Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper", "Transformation Soup")....
Yup, I go through this every time school ends... I suddenly have ample time to do all those amazing, creative and wonderful things I didn't have time to do during the school year and feel absolutely lost. It's a sad feeling. A frustrating one. And while I do pull myself out of it usually sooner than later, it sure sucks when I'm in it.. So, I nap. A lot. I wander around the house aimlessly, harassing the dust bunnies under the couch, and the spider webs behind the curtains. And I make comfort food. Like home-baked mac and cheese. Yum.
Home Baked Mac & Cheese
8 oz Whole Wheat Macaroni.
1/2 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
3/4 C Shredded Swiss Gruyere Cheese.
1/2 C Shredded Asiago Cheese.
1 C Canned Beans (I used Pinto), drained and rinsed.
1/2 Large Spanish Onion, diced.
4 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped.
4 Sundried Tomatoes, finely chopped.
A Couple BIG Handfuls of Leafy Greens (i.e. Kale or Spinach).
1 Dried Chili, finely chopped.
2 C Milk.
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted.
2 Tbsp White All-Purpose Flour.
Pinch of Paprika.
Pinch of Dried Mustard.
1 C Panko Bread Crumbs.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
Truffle Oil (if desired).
Truffle Oil (if desired).
What to Do:
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook about 7 minutes or until el dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and allow to soften slightly, followed by the garlic, sundried tomatoes, and chili.
Cook for about a minute and then add the leafy greens. Stir well to combine and cover the pan to allow the greens to steam. They will give off some water this way and make sure your macaroni isn't a water logged mess. After about 2 or 3 minutes stir, and replace the lid. Steam another 1 to 2 minutes and then remove the lid and allow any of the excess liquid to cook away. Set Aside.
In a medium sized sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once sizzling, stir in the flour until pasty and slightly fragrant - about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the milk, mustard, paprika, and some pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. Return to medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the milk thickens - about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Mmmm cheese sauce!
Now, throw your macaroni, the sauce, the beans, and your veggie mix all together in a 9 X 9 (lightly greased) baking dish. Stir well to coat.
Sprinkle with the panko crumbs and then bake for about an hour or until the top goes nice, golden, and crispy. If you get tired of waiting after 40 minutes you can also throw the broiler on to brown the top quickly - but watch it or it will burn very fast.
Remove from the oven, plate, and if using, drizzle lovingly with truffle oil.