I miss cooking. I miss eating things other than grilled cheese or tuna fish sandwiches. But mostly, I miss blogging.
I don’t like this whole “taking it easy” thing. It doesn’t suit me. If only my doctor could see what I’ve really been up to! Pretty sure he’d send me straight to my room and ground me (again).
Last weekend was my baby shower. It was all kinds of wonderful (imagine a room full of friends, family, and the cutest little baby clothes imaginable). But if you think that I just sat around and let things happen, you are sorely mistaken. My genius husband and I decided to throw a bbq/housewarming/friends and family get together immediately after the shower. I mean seriously, what were we thinking?!
Mistake #1: Hosting a party at 34 weeks pregnant.
Mistake #2: Insisting that 90% of the food be made from scratch.
Mistake #3: Insisting that 75% of the homemade food be made by me when I’m not supposed to cook or stand or do anything other then lie around.
Shall I go on?
The good news is that I still haven’t gone into labor.. YAY! Also, it was beyond wonderful to have so many of our close friends together again. The bad news is that the whole thing was a chaotic mess (at least according to John and I), and we were unbelievably stressed and tired by the end of the weekend. (Not to mention, we were less than pleased with how a lot of the food came out… and for someone like me, that’s devastating.)
I can’t change the past, but I can vow to be more careful in the future. When this baby comes, I promise to let as many people bring us food as possible. I will sit back, relax, and enjoy my time with John and our little one. No cooking. No cleaning. And those are my words, not the doctors.
Having said that, I’ve been dying to share this recipe for a few weeks now! John and I made this together before the craziness of last weekend went down. This is good. I mean, really, really good.
We’re big fans of Greek food, in general. We also happen to adore cheese, butter, cream, and pasta. What happens when you combine the two? Magic, my friends. Magic.
I’ll admit that making this pasta dish can take a while. If you’re not a multi-tasker, now is the time to learn.
First, you’ll need to roast a head of garlic. It takes about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oven. Get this in the oven immediately, then begin prep work for everything else.
Cut off the top of a head of garlic, then drizzle with some olive oil. Cover completely in aluminum foil, then place in a preheated oven (400 F) for about 30 minutes, or until the cloves are tender.
Remove, let cool, then push the cloves out. Use the back of a knife to smash the cloves into a paste-like consistency, or just chop them up a bit and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 375 F.
While the garlic is roasting, begin sautéing some sliced leeks and onions. Add them to some melted butter over medium-high heat, then turn the temperature down to it’s lowest setting and let them caramelize for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
They should go from this:
By the way, your house now smells amazing thanks to the leeks, onion, and roasted garlic. Yum.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a handful of salt, then cook rigatoni according to package instructions, or until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat until melted. Whisk in flour and let cook for approximately 1 minute. You just want the taste of the raw flour to cook off. Add some milk and cream, then continue to heat until hot, but not boiling.
Add fresh chopped oregano and rosemary, then mix well. Pour in grated asiago, feta cheese, and the reserved roasted garlic. Stir until just beginning to melt.
Seriously, how could this not taste good?!
In a very large bowl (trust me on this one), combine the cooked pasta, fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, onions, leeks, and cheese mixture. Stir until combined, then pour into a large baking dish.
You could totally eat this as is, but I always prefer mac and cheese with a little crunch on top.
Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top of the pasta, then bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the top of the pasta has turned slightly brown. (Alternatively, you could pop this under the broiler for a few minutes. Just keep a close eye on it.)
So cheesy, so gooey, and so necessary that you make this immediately.
Worth the effort?
*If you’re not a fan of super cheesy sauces, cut back on the asiago and feta slightly. Also, who ARE you?
Greek Macaroni & Cheese
*Recipe adapted slightly from Adventures in Cooking.
Yields: 8 servings
Time: 1 hr 20 min (but you have to multitask!)
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 leeks, thinly sliced
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta
- 11 oz feta cheese
- 1 cup asiago cheese
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp plus 3 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp flour
- 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat an oven to 400 F. Cut the top 1/4 off the head of garlic. Place on a sheet of tin foil large enough to wrap around the garlic, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap the garlic completely, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, then squeeze the garlic cloves out of each peel. Smash the garlic cloves into a paste-like consistency with the back of a knife or chop slightly, then set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 375 F.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and leeks, then reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook for one hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions (until al dente). Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat until melted. Whisk in flour and let cook for approximately 1 minute. Add the milk and cream and continue to heat until hot, but not boiling. Add the chopped oregano and rosemary, then mix well. Add the asiago, feta cheese, and roasted garlic, then stir until just beginning to melt.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Combine rigatoni, fresh spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives, onions, leeks, and cheese mixture in a large casserole dish. (If the sauce looks too thick, add a little of the reserved pasta water.) Sprinkle black pepper over the top of the pasta, then place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or just until the pasta has slightly browned on top. Remove and serve immediately.