I, like every other red-blooded American, have an overwhelming affinity for Mac-and-Cheese.
I have a great skillet recipe for the classic comfort food, but it requires lots of shredding and lots of ingredients. When I’m craving a cream-based pasta but don’t have a lot of time or I’m just trying to use things up in my pantry and fridge, I usually opt to make “Creamy Pasta”–a simple alfredo, if you will.
I learned this recipe via nanny-ing. The kids love it and it’s so fast and simple that if they request it last second…that’s ok! It’s also handy if you have plain left over pasta that otherwise wouldn’t get eaten. AND I always make this with whole wheat pasta–the kids can’t see that the pasta is a different color and they certainly can’t tell a difference in taste! Suckers.
What you need:
- Cooked short pasta–macaroni, farfalle, penne, etc. I’m partial to Cavatappi (little corkscrews) because the sauce really sticks
- Cream (heavy whipping, whipping, or half and half. Whatever you normally keep on hand!)
- Butter (1-2 tablespoons, depending on how much you’re making)
- Freshly-grated parmesan (however, if you only buy the pre-shredded parm [in the bag, not Kraft!], I will allow that—this time! )
- Freshly ground pepper
- Sea or Kosher Salt
What to Do:
- In a medium-sized pan, pour cream until it covers the bottom of the pan. I usually tilt the pan and if I can see the bottom of the pan when I tilt it, I add a little more cream. Remember, you don’t need a lot, but enough to completely cover the bottom of the pan!
- Add the butter and put the heat on medium.
- Once the butter and cream mixture starts to bubble (and it will! It’ll be a frothy bubble), turn the heat down slightly and add the cooked pasta. Stir to coat.
- Season liberally with salt and pepper. Stir again.
- Add a small handful of the grated parmesan cheese and stir again to melt. I always taste the pasta here and see if it needs more anything–salt, pepper, or cheese. Then add as needed
- Continue to heat, stirring constantly. It sometimes takes a while to thicken. Don’t worry if it looks thin. Just stop stirring, turn the heat OFF and let it sit for about a minute. The sauce will thicken on its own and you’ll have a really yummy creamy pasta!
I usually pair this with hot turkey sausage (or regular sausage for the S.O.). The hot, spicy flavor balances out the creaminess of the pasta. I would also recommend sliced, grilled chicken with this! It really is an extremely simple pasta that’s fool-proof. Enjoy!