Macaroni and cheese, like chocolate and wine, can help put almost all of life's problems into perspective. For instance, taxes. They suck. We have to do them every year, and for some, twice. Sometimes we get money back and sometimes we have to pay. Doing your taxes is like playing Russian roulette - am I going to win? or am I going to lose? I guess if you hire an accountant, taxes can be a little more predictable, but what's the fun in that? Chances are if you are doing the taxes you are also an adult, and this means that you can eat mac and cheese anytime you want. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three times a day, or four, or five. You can even stock up on frozen store-bought mac and cheese and heat it up while watching reruns of Gilmore Girls. There's no shame in that. So, maybe taxes aren't that bad after all?
Speaking of Gilmore Girls, are we excited for the upcoming mini-series - A Year in the Life? I am so excited it gives me chills. Starting Nov 25, I plan to clear my schedule for the entire week and binge watch the entire season (thank -you Netflix), and then binge-watch it again. My mom will be visiting that week, and I know she's not really into Gilmore Girls, so hopefully she will watch it with me or watch Sebastian :) While I binge-watch the entire season, I am of course going to need some deliciously tasty food (frozen store-bought mac and cheese just won't cut it), so what's better than a large casserole of the cheesiest homemade mac and cheese?
I've been working on a mac and cheese recipe that I think you will love. My favorite part of the dish is the broccoli rabe - the mildly bitter flavors pair so well with the sharp flavors of the cheddar! To prepare the broccoli rabe I gave it a quick boil before adding it to the pasta, which makes it a little more tender. To switch things up from your traditional mac and cheese, I used a pasta shell called conchiglie, for the very reason that they look like little boats able to hold more cheesy goodness than your average macaroni noodle. It turned out better than I could have imagined. So tender and cheesy. The perfect shell to cheese ratio. The type of dish that could make all of life's problems disappear - temporarily, at least.
*This post was sponsored by Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep the Flourishing Foodie delicious. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more broccoli rabe recipe ideas be sure to check out their website and Facebook page.
CREAMY MAC AND CHEESE WITH BROCCOLI RABE
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 35 minutes
7 oz fresh broccoli rabe
1 lb dry pasta
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (skim, 1%, 2%, or whole)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
20 ounces aged cheddar, grated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until tender - approximately 5 minutes.
Remove the broccoli rabe from the water. Once cool enough to touch, chop into bite-sized pieces. Set to the side.
Fill the large pot with water and return to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, add the butter to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Once sizzling, add the garlic and cook for one minute. Next, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Slowly drizzle in the milk and whisk until combined. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until thick - approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper. Once thick and creamy stir in the grated cheddar cheese.
Add the pasta noodles to a 12 x 8" rectangular baking dish, then add the broccoli rabe and combine. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and stir. Finally, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top. Place the dish in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.