Jeremy from our Facebook community shared his recipe for Pasta and Cheese Sauce with Veggies. Thanks, Jeremy!
Welcome to this edition of Cooking Using Inexact Measurements! I’m Jeremy, your host for the evening. Tonight: pasta and cheese sauce with veggies!
For some reason I decided the rotini I found in the back of the cupboard needed to be made into mac & cheese. Being too snooty to mix in sliced-up hot dogs and peas–not really, but pretend with me–I went all out with veggies instead.
Pasta with Cheese Sauce and Veggies
2 smallish yellow squash, diced
2 zucchini, diced
1/2 red onion, sliced
8 oz sliced mushrooms (somehow the sliced ones were cheaper than the same amount of whole…?)
maybe some fresh chopped basil, or parsley?
shallots to taste, chopped into tiny, tiny pieces
garlic, also to taste, also in tiny bits
4 handfuls of dry rotini (4 cups? Whatever is four servings to you)
1 cup broth, your choice
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk
4-5oz shredded cheese (I shredded 1/2 block of monterey jack)
1/4 cup flour
turmeric, as desired (mainly for color, see below)
salt and pepper (I rarely measure these unless I’m baking)
Boil some water and get that rotini cooking. Just follow the directions on the package, nothing fancy here. 🙂 I aimed for 8 minutes so it would still be a little chewy.
Slice and dice all of the veggies. Sauteé the squash, zucchini and red onion in a spritzing of olive oil for a few minutes–don’t cook them until they’re soft, just until they get some color and you can maybe smell the onions a bit. If you have room in the pan to add the mushrooms, do that and let everything go for a few minutes–if not, empty the pan, and sauteé the mushrooms. They won’t take as long as the other veggies.
I’d probably toss the chopped basil or parsley in near the end of the sauteéing, if that’s a thing you want to do. I had a metric butt-ton of leftover tarragon from making chicken salad last weekend, so I threw that in, but I think the other two herbs would play better with all of the other ingredients.
The rotini is probably done or close to done by this point. If you cheat and use bouillon cubes (no judgment here, I do) save a cup of the hot water when you drain the rotini, and drop your cube in.
I then used the pot that had the rotini in it to start the sauce–just a basic roux, nothing fancy. I melted one Tbsp of butter in the pot, threw in the shallots and garlic, and let them cook for a bit. I then melted the other Tbsp of butter, and started whisking in the 1/4 cup of flour. When that was done, I slowly poured in the cup of broth, then the cup of milk (continue to stir/whisk). When it looks nice and smooth, stir in the shredded cheese.
So, I read a recipe for mac & cheese somewhere that suggested using turmeric to get that bright yellow color that kids are used to seeing from a box mix. If you want to do this, add it slowly–I didn’t, and the next thing I knew, my cheese sauce had become a fantastic but unnaturally bright shade of yellow, almost like a hollandaise sauce. (It didn’t affect the flavor, as far as I could tell, but thank goodness I wasn’t serving this to anyone else. I’d have to hand out sunglasses, or cardboard with pinholes, or something.)
Turn down the heat and the cheese sauce go until it thickens up a bit.
Now, assemble!–one serving of rotini, followed by 1/4 of the veggies, followed by luverly, cheesy sauce. Don’t be afraid to be generous with the sauce–this recipe probably makes too much for just 4 servings.
I stored mine separate from the rest of the ingredients so I can always pour it over something else if I run out of veggies and pasta first. (I was going to say Welsh Rarebit, but then I found The Pioneer Woman’s recipe a bit ago, and my god does her cheese sauce look decadent compared to mine.) I ate my pasta dish with a thinly-sliced chop, and some fresh diced roma tomato on top. I would have taken a picture, but I’m not kidding about how garish the sauce was. Learn from my mistake here, seriously. 😉