(pretend there's a picture here of a huge bowl of creamy, dreamy pasta; I didn't have time to snap a pic!)
I'm writing this last minute post to tell you about the last minute pasta we had last night because we threw a last minute Thursday night celebration. Long story short, yesterday afternoon we received some really great news and invited a few friends over after work to share the joy. After a few rounds of cocktails, the natives started getting hungry. Luckily, right then some friends showed with some delicious sausages to throw on the Webber. But we couldn't sit around outside eating just sausages like some sort of savages. We needed a starch to make it a civilized meal!
"Carey, think real fast! What would go with sausages... uhhhh... how about buttered Parmesan noodles? It's quick, it's tasty, it fills the belly, it will be perfect!" Thus began the scrounging through the refrigerator, only to discover <gasp!> we were completely out of Parmesan! What to do??!!
I'll tell you what you do: you treasure hunt for all the bits and scraps of cheese you can find in the cheese drawer, make a cheese sauce and turn it into a stove top mac and cheese.
To further complicate things, I needed to cook up 2 lbs of pasta to feed the small crowd that had gathered. The problem with that was what I found in the pantry was one box of whole wheat shells, one box of regular white shells of a slightly different shape, a box of spaghetti, a box of corkscrew pasta and one bag of analletti (think Spaghetti O's). I knew the whole wheat shells were going to cook at a different rate than all the rest but I took my chances and went with 2 lbs. of shell pasta. I set that to boil and crossed my fingers.
Meanwhile, I rounded up all the leftover cheeses we had in the fridge. It's a good thing I'm a cheese hoarder because this is what I found: 1/2 bag of shredded mozzarella, 1/2 bag of shredded "Mexican Style" shredded cheese blend, a couple slices of Swiss Cheese, about 6 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese, a couple slices of Provolone, 1 brick of smoked Gouda and 2 bags of mozzarella cheese sticks.
Yeah, we eat a lot of cheese. You got a problem with that?
Into a medium saucepan I melted a whole cube of butter and sprinkled in about 4 heaping tablespoons of flour. I let that cook out for about a minute then poured in enough milk to make a roux, about 4 cups. Then I raided the newly organized spiced cabinet. I fished out salt, pepper, ground mustard, roasted garlic powder, toasted onion powder and sprinkled a little of each into my pot of roux.
Then I stirred in the shredded cheeses. I showed some restraint by only choosing the following cheeses: the cheddar, the shredded mozzarella, the shredded Mexican style cheese and the smoked Gouda.
I drained the al dente pasta (thank goodness the whole wheat shells didn't overcook), but left about 3/4 cup of the pasta water in the pot then stirred in the gooey, melted cheese sauce. I gave it all a vigorous stir so the pasta and sauce could get to know each other and it was done!
Those sausages with that pasta... well my friends... it was divine. And I'm not just saying that because we were starving hungry (it was nearly 10pm by then). It was a delicious feast, thrown together at the last minute and shared with 1 happy little group of friends.