Technically, of course, my dish isn't mac'n'cheese: it's adulterated with more than well, macaroni and cheese. But here's why it works, especially in January when some of us are slimming down after holiday indulgences:
- There are vegetables in there, also leftover smoked ham from Christmas
- Add a salad and it's a whole meal
- For carb watchers, I used Dreamfield's pasta -- have you found it yet?
- Dreamfield's is the low-carb pasta that tastes so great you can't tell the difference
- Officially, Dreamfield's pasta has a low-glycemic index so works for both low-carb and diabetic diets
- I'm ever grateful to the South Beach blogging queen Kalyn's Kitchen for the recommendation over a year ago
- Dreamfields is sold online now but in St. Louis, Schnucks is carrying it again, despite pulling all other low-carb pastas from their shelves
- For Weight Watchers, there are only 3 points per one-cup serving
- I may love-love-love my Mom's macaroni and cheese (egg noodles in a white sauce with onion and garlic and yes, Velveeta) but can eat the whole pot myself
- I may love-love-love this gorgeous creamy macaroni & cheese but it eats up 12 points and then only if I can muster the self-discipline to stop at a small-ish serving
And hey, Kevin? You know how you said that the mac'n'cheese off is "... not a contest, it's a life style choice."? If so, in January, my friend, I choose an alternative life style. Will you still let me play?
BAKED PASTA with HAM, TOMATOES & PEAS
Time to table: about 1 1/4 hours
Makes 14 cups
8 ounces curly noodles or rigatoni, cooked in well-salted water (the inspiring recipe said 12 ounces, I actually cooked 16, thinking it would be needed to balance with all the other ingredients: NOT)
2 cups diced smoked ham (3 cups was too many)
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup crumbled feta
4 ounces good melting cheese, grated (I used Gruyere)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme (this was better than expected, and important, but next time I might use fresh sage or thyme or even basil)
8 ounces frozen peas
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup half & half (the inspiring recipe used cream, the reviewers reported great luck with whole milk)
Preheat oven to 375F. Gently combine all ingredients except cream in a large bowl. Transfer to a well-greased 9x13 glass or ceramic dish. (Or like me, split between two dishes, one for supper and one for the freezer). Prep ahead to here. Cover and refrigerate and return to room temperature before continuing.
Pour half & half over pasta. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and stir well. Bake until heated through, 30 - 45 minutes.
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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