TWO PEAS & THEIR POD celebrates a family, friends, and community-oriented lifestyle that has huge and growing appeal. Maria the genuine, fun, relaxed mom next door who's got the secret sauce: that special knack for effortlessly creating tantalizing and wholesome (and budget-friendly) meals with ease. From a Loaded Nacho Bar bash for 200 guests to quick-and-easy healthy weeknight dinners like never-fail favorites like One-Skillet Sausage Pasta or Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps (always followed by a fab dessert!), Maria shares her best lifestyle tips and home cook smarts.
An essential resource for parents looking to update their healthy, inexpensive, time-saving, kid friendly meal roster; aspiring home cooks who want to eat-in delicious food more than they eat out; as well as anyone looking to share their love of food and the giving spirit with their neighbors, TWO PEAS & THEIR POD will help readers bring home that (achievable!) slice of Americana, where families come together to enjoy fresh and nutritious meals and there's always a batch of still-warm cookies waiting on the counter.
PESTO-HAVARTI MAC AND CHEESE
prep: 5 MINUTES | cook: 15 MINUTES | total: 20 MINUTES | serves 6
I usually make a salad for myself on mac and cheese night, unless this version is on the menu—then I grab a bowl and join my boys. This easy “gourmet” version of the classic is my personal favorite, and yet it takes just as little time as the boxed kind to prepare. It gets its creaminess from Havarti cheese (a soft cow’s milk cheese that is super melty and gooey—you could also use mozzarella), plus a boost from fresh spinach-basil pesto. At first the boys were wary because their mac wasn’t orange, but after one bite they were yelling for more. Now it’s a family favorite that we all get excited for.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups (12 ounces) whole-wheat elbow macaroni (orecchiette also works well)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 cups shredded Havarti or mozzarella cheese
- 3 tablespoons Spinach-Basil Pesto (recipe follows) or store-bought pesto
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
2. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to create a paste. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Fold in the pesto.
3. Add the pasta, stirring to combine, and cook just until the pasta is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
NOTE: This dish is a great blank canvas for all kinds of mix-ins, such as cooked chicken, broccoli, or frozen peas. And a fun variation is to turn the mac and cheese into a crunchy-topped baked casserole: Just pour the finished mac and cheese into a baking dish, sprinkle panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese over the top, and broil for 3 minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden brown.