Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day #221 - Alternative White Mac & Cheese

Tonight I tossed together a delicious plate of pasta, using the sparse ingredients in my pantry.  And by sparse, I mean that I have no pasta sauce, no ground beef or chicken, no tomatoes, no spinach, no eggs, and no milk available to cook with.  So "traditional" pasta dishes weren't an option.  I had to be creative.

I boiled my elbow macaroni noodles, with a couple chicken bouillon cubes thrown in the water for some flavoring.  I created a sauce for the noodles using the leftover cooked white beans from Tuesday night and some various seasonings.   And I tossed in some frozen vegetables for additional nutritional value and color.   It actually turned out really well, and I thought I was being creative....until I looked online and found many many other recipes for pasta with a white bean sauce.  Oh well.   Here is my version:

Theresa's Alternative White Mac & Cheese

1 cup cooked Great Northern White Beans
5-6 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 palmful dried Italian herbs
2 cups elbow macaroni (or other short-cut pasta.  Whole grain would work too)
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (or other white cheese)

1) In medium pot, bring enough water to a boil, per the pasta box instructions.   When boiling, drop in the bouillon cubes and pasta, and cook for 6 minutes.  Add the frozen vegetables to the pot with the pasta and continue boiling for another 2-3 minutes, until pasta is al dente and vegetables are tender.
2) In a microwavable bowl, reheat white beans for 2 minutes.  Use a fork to mash beans to a smooth consistency.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, butter or margarine, and Italian herbs to the bean paste, and stir well.  **
3) Once pasta and vegetables are cooked, use a small measuring cup to scoop 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.   Drain out the rest of the liquid.
4) Slowly pour the cooking liquid into the bowl with the the bean paste mixture, and stir until well-combined.  You want this sauce to be thin enough that it can pour over the pasta without being too soupy.
5) Pour the bean sauce into the pasta pot, and add in the cup of shredded cheese.  Mix together well and serve immediately.

The result was a creamy, cheesy pasta dish.  And no, it did not have an overwhelming bean taste.  The Italian herbs, cheese, and Worcestershire sauce helped mask the bean taste.   You might be wondering why I chose to use Worcestershire sauce in this dish?   Because Rachael Ray often uses Worcestershire in some of her dishes as a secret ingredient, so I figured I'd sneak a little in for an extra pop of flavor. 

**NOTE: This combination of beans, herbs, butter, and Worcestershire sauce was good enough at this point, that I could have scooped it out of the bowl and eaten with pita chips.  Try serving this bean dip at your next party!

P.S. If anybody can think of a really good, creative name for this dish, let me know. :-)

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