Shells and Cheese (with broccoli)

The frigid cold has returned.  Not a surprise given that it’s February, but still disappointing.  I needed a hot lunch today, but too much work meant I didn’t have much time to make that happen.  Can’t beat shells and cheese for comfort food on a cold day.  I threw the broccoli in as an afterthought.

Remember when I told you that having a good white sauce in your arsenal is important?  No?  Check the Artichoke and Lemon Stuffed Shells recipe.  In that recipe I made a sophisticated ricotta sauce.  Today I used that same base to make a yummy cheese sauce.  Here’s how it works:  make a roux (butter and flour); add a little milk at a time, stirring constantly, until you have a thin sauce; bring it to a boil and simmer to thicken.  There’s a white sauce.  Today I added 1/2 C sharp cheddar and 1/2 C parmesan.  Finish with some black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.  Yum! You’ll never use a box mix again.

I used whole wheat shells and steamed some broccoli so I could up the nutrition quotient.  Didn’t hurt the flavor quotient a bit.  A terrific lunch in about 15 minutes. Perfect if you’ve got kids at home or a friend who’s having a tough day and needs a little comfort.

Good? Please, it’s mac and cheese. Of course it’s good.
Easy? Actually, yes.
Good for company? On a rainy afternoon.
Special shopping? Nope.

Shells and Cheese

Ingredients

1/3 box small shell or other pasta, cooked
1 C cheese sauce
2 C steamed broccoli florets

Cheese Sauce:
1 T butter
2 T flour
3/4 C milk
1/2 C parmesan, grated
1/2 C sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t nutmeg

Directions

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add flour. Stir until fully incorporated. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking constantly, until you have a sauce consistency. Then you can add the remaining milk all at once. Add the parmesan cheese. Stir in. Add cheddar. Stir until melted. Simmer until the sauce thickens to the consistency that you want.

Stir sauce into shells. Add broccoli and toss.

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