A couple of months ago, I noticed an interesting post in one of those groups on Facebook where people post their dinner menus.
Among all the fancy "poached salmon with risotto and wilted baby spinach with fresh mushrooms" and other such gourmet (um, read: unrealistic for a busy family) menus was a GEM. It was a "Cheater's Macaroni and Cheese" recipe, that, get this -- had no cheese in it!
I was intrigued and filed away the idea. Because, after all, we know that the cheese is the expensive part of a pasta meal, and I was wondering if we could find a way to "frugalize" our pasta meals, but still have milk protein in it.
So this week, I took that recipe and tweaked it to work with my family's preferences.
And here's what I came up with:
Improvised Pasta with "Cheese" Sauce
This makes a really large batch. Enough to feed my family of 6, including a teenage boy and a bottomless pit almost teenage boy AND have leftovers for my hubby to take with him to work for lunch the next day. Feel free to cut it in half.
What You Need:
5-6 cups water
2 bags whole wheat pasta
1-1.5 liters milk
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt, pepper, granulated garlic, oregano to taste
First, bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta. It will' look like there's not enough water in there, but that's because there ISN'T. Bring the pot back to a boil and stir the pasta as it cooks in the small amount of water. Eventually the water will all be absorbed, and the pasta won't be fully cooked yet. Turn off the flame. Add milk and seasonings to the pot. Stir well, and turn the flame back on. Bring it to a boil, and continue stirring as the pasta cooks in the milk. It will absorb some of the milk, and some of the milk will thicken as it absorbs the pasta's starches, so it will become somewhat saucy. It won't be super saucy, because if you don't let the pasta absorb enough of the milk, you'll just have pasta in spiced milk. When it appears to be ready, turn off the flame, cover the pot, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Mix once again before serving.
Note: the pictures in this post are from my attempt with whole wheat linguini, but it worked better with whole wheat fusilli.
Second Note: this is not a perfect imitation of macaroni and cheese, but for us it was "good enough". And just as I strive in life not for perfection, but rather for "good enough", that is what I strive for with my kitchen experiments as well. Especially the money-saving ones when money is tight.
I hope this helps someone out there!