Rainy days cause macaroni and cheese. This particular recipe seems to have a lot of steps and ingredients, but it comes together quickly and is my favorite mac and cheese creation. There are endless places this recipe could differ, depending on your cheese, vegetable and pasta collection you may end up with a totally different dish. Wherever you take this, remember the lemon juice and the chili pepper flakes because of the dimension of flavor they bring to the dish. This recipe made enough to fill two small cast iron skillets.
Skillet Mac and Cheese + Sauteed Kale + Basil Broccoli
3 cups brown rice penne pasta
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 leaves cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale, stems removed and chopped
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
8 small broccoli heads, diced
2 tsp dried basil
A pinch of thyme
1/2 cup stale or oven dried bread made into crumbs (I used oat molasses bread my roommate made a few days ago and dried it out in the oven)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup good cheddar cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp paprika
olive oil + butter
Goat cheese and queso fresco or cheese of your choice
Heat 5 cups of salted water in a large pot and cook until al dente.
In a separate skillet, heat a tbsp of butter and a drizzle of olive oil together. Add the shallots, saute for a few moments, then add the garlic and the chili pepper flakes. Finally add the kale. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sea salt. Cook on medium, covered, until the kale is wilted and the shallots and garlic are slightly crisped and golden.
In another pan heat the milk, heavy cream, cheese, paprika, sea salt, pepper and butter. Watch this carefully and remove when the cheese is mostly melted. Mix this cheese mixture with the cooked pasta.
Drizzle another skillet with olive oil and add the broccoli, drizzle with lemon juice, and then add the basil, bread crumbs and thyme.
To assemble to macaroni and cheese, lightly butter a cast iron skillet, spoon in some pasta, mix in some of the kale, then top with the broccoli, basil bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle a little bit of goat cheese and queso fresco on top and finish with a grind of sea salt and pepper. Broil on high heat until the cheese is browned and crisped.