I have turned into a super fancy jet setter. Some of you may be wondering what a super famcy jet setter was recently doing on the discount bus to DC with crappy hummus takeout that was chosen for the culinarily-sophisticated reasons that it was the closest restaurant to the bus door and it was snowing. And to those naysayers I say, “Poo, poo” (in my fanciest accent).
So I guess we can drop the “jet” part and we can forget about the “super fancy” part and just stick with the idea that I have turned into a setter. I am zipping all over this country — DC for the BF’s mom’s birthday and long dog-walks in the springtime sunshine, Atlanta for the most beautiful wedding (congrats Sara and Jacob!) and more pimento cheese than can possibly be healthy, this weekend I’m headed to Texas for Easter and a family Netflix binge, and the weekend after to LA for another wedding (a-little-early-but-hey-you’re-almost-there-congratulations Juan and Nicki!).
All this setting about means I’m missing crucial weekend cooking time. When I’m home on Sunday, and I make a big pot of chili, I know what I’m going to eat all week long. But when my Sunday is spent at Chili’s To Go, what am I supposed to have for lunch on Monday? I’ve come up with a solution, and let me tell you, it’s amazing. One word: pastabake (to be fair, my autocorrect thinks it should be two words…) A couple of weeks ago, I boiled up a box of pasta, and a bunch of fresh veggies, and some chicken sausage, and a light bechamel sauce. It’s basically a grownup mac and cheese. Topped with a little cheese (okay, fine, a lot of cheese #coafg) it is a perfect quick weeknight dinner-turned-leftovers lunch.
Flashback! One year ago on Leighto-Greato: Avocado Toast
- 1 lb. dried package pasta in a small shape, like macaroni or wagon wheels (not long pasta like spaghetti)
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 10 oz. package of pre-cooked chicken sausage, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed and chopped into very small pieces
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 10 oz. box of baby bella mushrooms, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 3 T. butter
- 3 T. all purpose flour
- 3 c. milk
- 1 lb. fresh smoked mozzarella, grated
- Bring a big pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat and cook dried pasta to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven or other oven-safe pot. If you don't have an oven-safe pot you can use a regular pot and switch to an oven-safe dish later.
- Add the sliced chicken sausage (which is already cooked. Please just double check this. For my sanity, just look at the package and make sure it's cooked all the way before you give yourself food poisoning and lay the blame at my BLOODLESS, INNOCENT HANDS) and brown, stirring very occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Once the chicken is browned, add the broccoli rabe, season well with salt and pepper and saute until wilted. About 1 minute before the pasta is done, add the asparagus and mushrooms and stir well. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.
- When the pasta is done cooking, strain it over a large bowl, reserving the pasta water. Dump the cooked pasta into the chicken-asparagus pot, stir, turn off the heat, and cover.
- In the pasta-cooking pot, melt your butter over medium-high heat. Once fully melted, whisk in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes while the flour/butter mixture bubbles continuously, whisking occasionally. Still over medium-high heat, whisk in the milk in ½ cup increments until fully incorporated. If the milk isn't incorporating or the flour mixture seized up, keep calm and carry on whisking. It will right itself in time. Continue cooking another 5 minutes or so, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in about ¼ cup of the shredded cheese, and pour over the pasta mixture, stirring until it's all coated evenly. If you don't have the mix in an oven-safe dish, this is the time to make that switch.
- Top with remaining cheese and place under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned. Serve hot.