Something must be done, and thankfully, our past selves put a healthy stock of nonperishable foodstuffs in our cabinet. In this particular case, little crusty bread, canned cooked beans and assorted fishies in cans.
With these, a little olive oil and salt and very little work, we were able to throw together this tasty little snack, and live to fight another day (the hangries, that is).
We’ve been on a grain-based salad kick for a while, combining couscous, bulgar, farro or whatever we have in the cupboard with vegetables, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices for new combos. I think this started because:
Green salads can get pretty grim during the winter months.
Whenever we serve simple salads to guests, no one eats it and we end up with a neverending bowl of wilting lettuce in our fridge.
I like these heartier salads because they have endless variations, and they are a blank canvas for all the spices we have been collecting. I made this one for our last EatWith event and loved the contrast of the different textures and flavors (I think the cinnamon is a must).
We hosted our first big EatWith event last night and had an absolute blast. We had more than 20 guests, and it was such a great mix of interesting, cool people from all over.
Brian made his amazing slow-cooked BBQ pork, setting up the grill on our wee balcony and tending to it lovingly all day. We also made crudité, tzatziki, bulgar salad, coleslaw, bourbon-chipotle BBQ sauce and a new version of mac and cheese we’re experimenting with.
True to my American roots, I love mac and cheese in all its forms, and I’m always looking for my new favorite recipe. This one turned out really well. A few people asked for the recipe, so here it is! You can be flexible with the kinds of cheese you use – feel free to play around with combinations and see what you like. I’m not sure there’s a wrong way to make delicious cheese sauce.
1 1/3 lb. cheese, grated (about 600 g) - I used aged white cheddar, Grana and a semi-curado Spanish cheese that reminded me of Monterey Jack
1 egg, beaten
6 yellow onions, sliced thinly
Panko bread crumbs
Grated black truffle (optional)
Salt, pepper, other spices/herbs to taste
Heat a small amount of olive oil and butter in a non-stick pan on medium-low.
Add sliced onions and cook until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently, about 30-40 minutes. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a generous handful of sea salt.
Cook macaroni for a few minutes less than the cook time on the package (it should be too firm to eat, not yet al dente). Drain and set aside.
While the pasta water is boiling, melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan on medium-low heat.
Add 5 tablespoons of flour, whisking constantly to remove lumps and to keep from burning. The consistency should be a slightly thickened liquid (I added a few more tablespoons of flour here to make a bit more dense). Cook for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.
Stir in milk and dry mustard slowly. Cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring often.
Add a small cup of the sauce to the bowl holding the beaten egg, whisking constantly.(This is called tempering and gradually raises the temperature of the egg without scrambling it.)
Mix in cheese, reserving a small amount of Grana for the topping. The consistency should be thick and creamy.
Taste sauce and add salt, pepper and other spices or herbs to taste.
In a small pan, toast a few generous handfuls of panko breadcrumbs in a little butter for a few minutes.
Add macaroni and caramelized onions to cheese sauce and mix well.
Transfer mac and cheese to a casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture and leftover Grana on top.
Bake at 375 degrees F/ 190 degrees C for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.
Sprinkle a little grated black truffle on top if you're feeling extra fancy.