Q: I've been on the hunt for the perfect mac and cheese recipe and have tried 5 different recipes, but I keep running into the same problems: the cheese separates, the dish is too oily, and there is no creamy texture. Most recipes I've tried use a roux-based cheese sauce. Is that the issue?
Pasta casseroles are perhaps the ultimate combination of weeknight convenience and homey comfort food. Casseroles like this one don't take long to cook, and they can be put together the day before and baked or warmed up at the end of a long day. And yet these pasta bakes are comforting and delicious. This one has a double dose of spinach, spoonfuls of pesto, and, yes, plenty of cheese. It's a whole meal in one dish.
The next time you find yourself with a neglected cup of macaroni or that last serving of spaghetti that no one seems to want, promise me you'll try this. I've been making pasta frittatas ever since another Kitchn writer mentioned it years ago, and it is hands down my favorite way to use up leftover pasta—along with whatever else is hanging around in the fridge.
I've had "pasta bake" on my list of recipes to make since the very beginning of my culinary journey. So what has been stopping me after all these years? I'm not really sure! Perhaps I was still in search of the "ultimate" version or a super-chefy secret ingredient. But a few weeks ago I found myself strapped for time with a barren cupboard, and friends already on their way over for dinner. And this amazing five ingredient casserole was born.
When you think of casseroles, do the words elegant and beautiful come to your mind? Probably not. Casseroles have many admirable qualities, but they are of the plainer, stodgier sort. Unless, that is, they are French.
Being Southern and all, I grew up eating, and loving, breakfast casserole. (Some of you may call it a strata or bake. To be honest, I still don't know the difference.) My mother's recipe is basic—just sausage, bread, eggs, and cheese. Any time mom has to feed a crowd, whether for company, early football games, or Christmas, this is the dish she makes.
Q: While traveling through New Zealand, I discovered roasted vegetable frittatas, which are quite different from the North American version of frittatas: about 2-3" thick, simultaneously eggy and creamy rather than spongy, and loaded with roasted veggies.
We have good friends who are expecting their first baby any second now, and it's had me thinking about what we should make to bring over when the day comes. I've had a few close friends have their first children this year, but unfortunately we haven't lived in the same city, so I'm thrilled to have the chance to help out this time around.
I told my mother it was family recipes week here at The Kitchn and together we pondered over what cheesy family recipe I could post. (I know, cue joke about all family recipes being cheesy.) She was adamant that I write about her standby grits recipe that's been in the family for years. She knew I'd hesitate, though, since the key ingredient is a cheese that I'd never typically plug. But it kind of makes the dish, so onward we go.
This is the mac and cheese that I grew up on—creamy sauce, chewy pasta, and don't spare the cheese! It always felt like a special treat to us kids, though I suspect that my mother liked it more because it was an easy stove top dish that required almost no thought to pull together at the end of a long day. Whatever the reason, whatever the occasion, a bowl of this mac and cheese will always spell comfort.