I have a fairly consistent methodology for choosing the recipes that I cook and then write about for this blog. Based on the week’s theme, I search the Mary Lee website with a keyword and pick from the recipes that pop up. This week, I am writing about showing love through food, so I searched the word “comfort.” You certainly don’t need me to tell you there is something about comfort food — it just hits the exact spot that you need it to hit at exactly the right moment. In that way, pretty much anything can be comfort food, but I’m going with a classic for this post. This week I made comforting mac & cheese, originally posted last August.
While going through the recipes tagged comfort, I was waiting for the one that triggered my sense of nostalgia. My mom is a great cook and often made dinner for my dad, my two siblings, and me. It’s hard to try and pick a favorite thing that she cooks, but when I read the mac & cheese recipe, two dishes came to mind: a chicken, spinach, and noodle bake that I loved growing up, and macaroni and cheese with tuna and peas, a dish I still like to make. I knew that I could take Elizabeth’s mac & cheese recipe, tweak it slightly, and have a meal that reminded me of being home with my family and eating delicious food.
To make my version of this mac & cheese I used a 16-ounce bag of brown rice fusilli pasta. I found my final product to be just slightly shy of the cheese factor that I look for in mac & cheese, so I would suggest either using a 12-ounce bag if you use 2 cups of cheese (as per the recipe), or increasing the amount of shredded cheese you use if cooking with 16 ounces of pasta. I added some fresh spinach to my onions as they were nearing translucence, and don’t care for sun-dried tomatoes, so I opted to leave that ingredient out of my mac & cheese. But that’s the beauty of this dish, and any casserole-type recipe: you can add and delete items from the basic recipe in order to make the meal that suits your needs in that moment. The simple addition of spinach, coupled with the peas the recipe already calls for, and I had a dish with a taste that immediately gave way to memories of delicious childhood dinners.
Click here for the recipe.