garden macaroni and cheese

My garden is a little behind the times – while others are harvesting tomatoes, peppers, corn and eggplants, I’m still harvesting broccoli! In this recipe, you can use whatever you have on hand from your garden or the farmers’ market. Corn, mushrooms, and zucchini would all be good.

First, this note: please understand that since I can’t follow a recipe, my own recipes often contain a certain amount of guesswork. For example, I buy my macaroni in bulk, so for this dish, I cooked twice as much macaroni as I thought I needed, used enough of it in the recipe to fill up the casserole dish, and the rest went into the fridge for another dish. Such is life in my kitchen. If you make this and think that it needs a little more or less whatever, it probably does!

3-4 c. cooked macaroni
3 T. butter
1 T. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. salt
black pepper to taste
About 3 c. finely chopped vegetables – I used:
2 c. broccoli
1/4 c. green pepper
1/4 c. carrots
1/2 c. onion
4 large leaves of basil, chopped
a stalk’s worth of parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt 2 T. butter. Mix in 1 T. flour until smooth, and cook for a minute. Mix in the milk until smooth, and bring it up to boiling slowly, stirring often. Add the cheese and seasonings, saving some cheese for the top. Take it off the heat.

In a skillet, saute the chopped veggies and herbs in the remaining 1 T. butter for about 5 minutes, until bright and crunchy. Mix in the macaroni. Put the combination macaroni and vegetables into a buttered casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce over it and mix it all thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Here’s a little tip: if you buy butter or margarine in sticks, save the wrappers to grease pans and casseroles. These work especially well for muffin pans.

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