This is the easiest macaroni and cheese you will ever make.
If you buy pre-grated cheese, it's even faster than the boxed stuff. I promise. It's tastier too, with a rich, creamy, full flavor that can be as mild or assertive depending upon the kind of cheese you use. And the best part? It uses 3 real, honest, unprocessed ingredients and can be made in minutes. Literally minutes, once the pasta is boiled.
I use whole-wheat macaroni because I'm basically a whole grain pasta convert. And in this recipe you really can't tell the difference if you're not looking for it, or if you're 2. Dahlia doesn't seem to care one way or the other so why not give her the fiber?
The only trick here is to stir the cream and cheese constantly while it's heating and melting with the pasta. This causes it to emulsify and form a thick, velvety sauce. Parmesan takes a little longer to dissolve into a creamy puddle than softer cheeses.
If you want to tart this up and make it suitable for adult company, you can add a slew of tasting things to the pot: minced garlic, chopped scallions or herbs, a dollop of spicy mustard, some Worcester sauce, some culutred salty butter, diced ham, you name it.
But if you want pure unadulterated comfort, just sprinle the top with a little fleur de sel and grind on plenty of black pepper. Then dig in. You'll never go back to the box, that I can promise.
Photos by Olga Massov
Quick and Homey Mac and Cheese
Serves 1 adult, or 2 small children
1 cup macaroni (preferably whole-wheat)
1 ounce sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (scant 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch of salt
In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package instructions (the whole-wheat takes about 10 minutes). Drain macaroni, then add it back to the pot, and over low heat, stir in Cheddar, cream and salt. Cook, stirring, over low heat for 2-3 minutes until the cheese and cream are blended in and creamy.
Variation: Fusilli with Creamy Parmesan and Peas
2/3 cup fusilli (preferably whole-wheat)
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
Pinch of nutmeg
In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package instructions. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, throw the peas into the pot for a few seconds and then drain the macaroni and the peas. Add them back to the pot and over low heat, stir in Parmesan, cream and nutmeg. Cook, stirring, over low heat for 2-3 minutes until the cheese and cream are blended in and creamy.