28 March 2011

Pasta and pizza, it's like a broken record

It seems I can't get away from noodles lately.

We had these sesame noodles for dinner tonight, and The Boy was in love. Peanut butter + pasta equals a happy boy.

And on St. Patrick's Day I fed a crowd of little boys some Irish Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese. Really, it was a sharp white cheddar and orrechiette. It was so good that the moms on duty, my friend Kim and I, ate seconds and then shoveled one last bite over the sink while cleaning up.

How to: Start with a basic white sauce. Melt 3 tbsp butter in a medium sauce pan. Add three tablespoons of flour while whisking and cook a few minutes until it smells nutty. Add 2 1/2 cups of warm milk and increase heat to medium-high. Stirring often, watch for the mixture to bubble, but do not let it boil. Turn heat off and add about two cups of grated cheese. Stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cooked pasta and either serve immediately or for the baked variety, pour mixture and pasta into casserole, top with cheese and bake until brown and bubbly.

And if there was one thing I cooked as much as pasta, it may be pizza. This dish, well, it's just a combination of the two. On a recent weeknight I found myself staring at a bowl of leftover spaghetti noodles and wondering what I could do with them. I found this recipe for Pizza di Spaghetti and went with it. I just used plain, cooked spaghetti and not one covered with her tomato and olive sauce. It worked out just fine, and I went ahead and topped mine like a regular pizza. The Boy loved it. I thought a grown-up version topped with a warm salty mixture of sauteed mushrooms, pine nuts and maybe some goat cheese would be yummy.

I should also mention that I did this in two stages, cooking the spaghetti "crust" first, cooling, and refrigerating until dinner time. Then, I fired up the oven, topped it like a pizza and baked. I think the crust probably lost a little crispness, but overall, it worked out just fine and prepping dinner early keeps me a little more sane.

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