All Grown Up: Adventures in Cooking
For the last month or so, Erik and I have attempted to spend more of our time eating in rather than eating out at restaurants. It’s quite hard, actually. In New York City, there is a plethora of restaurants, and there’s about 20 within a one block radius of my apartment, unlike in the suburbs where you actually have to get in a car and drive through traffic to get somewhere. The food is also more expensive in New York City, as compared to other places, so sometimes it can seem not worth it but clearly eating out at restaurants is vastly more expensive than eating in (restaurants are also proportionately more expensive here, so it all evens out).
Since we started eating in more, our main source of food is prepackaged meals from Trader Joe’s. While healthier and cheaper than eating out, it’s hardly cooking. It’s more like heating. But I can heat a mean meal, let me tell you…
One of my goals for my 101 Things List to make every recipe out of a cookbook. My mom gave me Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook for Christmas, so on Saturday, Erik and I decided to sit down and cook something – from scratch. Jamie’s book, from what I can tell, is filled with yummy-sounding and relatively easy to make dishes that won’t be hard for Erik and I to cook ourselves. Although cooking at home is hopefully going to lead to more healthier food options, our first meal wasn’t exactly the most low-fat or low-carb… Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake, found on page 49. Trust me, it tastes way better than it sounds.
The first thing that drew me to this recipe is how simple the ingredients are. Most of this you might already have in your cupboard: a head of cauliflower, chedder (8 oz.) and parmesan cheese (4 oz), some Italian parsley, sea salt, a pound of macaroni (also called elbows) and creme fraiche or sour cream (we used sour cream). We actually chose macaroni screw noodles, so they were a bit bigger and thicker than your typical macaroni noodle.
I had actually never cut up cauliflower before, so it was awkward to tear off the green leaves on the outside. Then, you just cut the head in half, and set one half aside. With the other side, you shop off the stalk, and then take the head and cut that up into little florets. Then cut half the stalk into thin slices (though I personally think you could skip that part, I don’t see how it really adds to the final product).
While I did this, Erik boiled the water (using sea salt in the water) and tossed in the macaroni. Then when I was done cutting up the cauliflower, I tossed that in as well. Cook everything together as if you were just cooking macaroni.
In a separate heatable bowl, toss together the cheeses. It’s a MASSIVE amount of cheese, but tastes so good. Then add a cup of sour cream. Set the heatable bowl over the pot of macaroni to melt the cheese. It’s a little weird, and we ended up having to use a baking dish instead of a bowl, because the bowl wasn’t as wide as the pot. It ended up working out just fine, since we needed the baking dish later. Stir occasionally while it’s melting to make sure it’s mixing well.
Once the cheese was completely melted, we added the parsley and mixed that in. We gave the bottle a good few shakes. By then, the pasta was cooked and we drained the water (save some for later, though!), then added the pasta and cauliflower to the baking dish with the cheesey goop. Mix thoroughly!
Jamie’s recipe recommends baking the macaroni for a golden brown texture, so we set the baking dish in the oven. Remember to add some of your cooking water so it doesn’t dry out! Unfortunately, we had the oven set on bake, and not broil, so it didn’t turn out quite as brown as we wanted, but it was still tasty. Wait until the pasta is brown and bubbling. Take it out and enjoy!
To round out our meal, we added some plain shrimp with melted butter and a big heap of salad! It was dee-lish!
Nutritional content: Most fat! It’s cheesy goodness, so be careful there. The only carbs though is the pasta, so just look at the pasta package and measure accordingly.
- Final thoughts:
We thought this meal was delicious. It had a hint of cauliflower flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering when paired with the cheese. I was quite surprised I liked it since I’m not a fan of cauliflower. Erik and I thought it would do well with broccoli as a substitution and chicken as an addition to the pasta. It says it makes 4-6 servings, but I personally think it’s more like 6. We had enough for dinner and lunch, and we still have more pasta! It’s definitely a great Sunday night dinner that you can take with you to work, especially since pasta reheats so well. You can definitely eat it for several meals if you want.
- Rating: Two thumbs up!