I was talking with Dena and members today at distribution and talked about my swiss chard macaroni and cheese. I wanted to share it again on the blog because early 2009 was the last time that I posted it! Making mac & cheese from scratch is very easy. There is a series of steps that make it work every time. I must say that I did not learn to cook this recipe until I was 34 because it seemed scary to do from scratch. Now, this is one of my standard fast food meals, especially if we have swiss chard. You can customize it with a different amount of cheese or a different type of cheese. This recipe serves 2.
2 tblsp butter
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup 2% milk
1 clove of garlic
1 tblsp dried oregano
1-2 tsps red chile flakes
4 slices local cheese
2 fresh chicken sasuages (I like the spinach/feta type from The COOP)
2 cups whole wheat pasta (I use the ones with swirls to catch the cheese)
8 oz Swiss Chard (you can use more or less)
I use a heavy bottom sauce pan to make the sauce. If you have an enameled pan, this is a great recipe to use it. Turn the stove on medium and let the pan heat up. Add the butter and let it melt completely. Add the flour and start stirring. The flour needs to cook for a few minutes, but don’t let it turn brown. Have the milk ready to add. Most recipes say that you need to heat the milk to a simmer before adding, but I have found that leaving the milk out on the counter while cooking will work almost as good. Whisk the milk into the pan. It will start to thicken after a few minutes so keep the whisk handy as you are completing the seasoning step. I place a pot of water on for the pasta.
I add the garlic at this point. The easiest way to do it is peel the garlic and grate it with a microplane (small grater) into the sauce. I also add dried oregano by placing it in my hands and squishing it into the pan. This will let more of the flavor out of the dried herb. The red chile can also be added now. Prepare the cheese by cutting the slices and then cubing it so that it melts more quickly. When the sauce is sticking to the whisk, trade the whisk for a spoon. Add the cheese and turn down the stove to low. Keep watching and stirring.
In a small pan, cook the sausages. I remove the sausages from their packing, but you could cook them and cut into pieces. The pasta should be ready to cook during this step and it will take a little longer to cook whole wheat pasta. Wash the chard and remove the stems. Cut the chard into smaller strips. Watch the pasta cooking time because the chard it going to go in the water for 4 minutes with the pasta. I use a large slotted spoon to add the pasta and chard to the sauce. This adds a little water to the cheese sauce, but it can cook into the sauce before serving. Let it stay on the stove for a few more minutes and serve. Enjoy!