This story started
many years ago this year…
Believe me or not, but few months back I didn’t have a cast iron skillet. Doesn’t sound plausible? I had seen a lot of fantastic recipes and marvelous photographs featuring the iron casts. How the hell was I supposed to make a frittata?
I had made a few attempts to persuade Andrey that an iron skillet was a necessity, but he ignored all my pleas. Indeed, he had quite a reasonable answer that we didn’t have enough space for all this kitchen stuff.
Truth. In fact, we wouldn’t have had such an issue if I hadn’t had all my kitchen props. But getting rid of them wasn’t a solution. At all.
Thus, I came up with a perfect decision. In April, few weeks before my Birthday, I suggested an iron cast skillet to be one of my Birthday presents. I mean, who would ever reject a wish of a Birthday guy, right? That would have been so ruthless.
Yup, besides being hilarious, honest, handsome, gifted, and intelligent guy (not to mention being extremely humble), I could be canny as well.
And that worked!
When I got my first Canadian iron cast I knew I would make mac and cheese in the first place.
Because mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet looks sexy!
I was going to fulfill this ingenious plan in May, but that didn’t happen.
The reason was simple. I couldn’t figure out what kind of mac and cheese I would be making. I don’t choose the simple ways. As a result, May was marked by my thoughts about the recipe. So was the June. I was thinking about making eggplant mac and cheese, but that was a bit boring too. Tomatoes and basil? Rejected because Andrew isn’t fond of roasted tomatoes.
Well, perhaps, I’m not that creative because I didn’t figure out that by myself.
Sure, I didn’t fully follow the recipe, because for me the idea is more important than the recipe.
Should I tell how delicious this Ratatouille Mac and Cheese turned out? Imagine that: sauteed onions, garlic, eggplants, zucchini, and tomatoes. They’re generously spruced up with fresh herbs such as savory, thyme, and rosemary. Instead the classic white sauce I’ve got a simple yet delicious cream cheese sauce. Plus, smoked paprika to accentuate the veggie flavors. And don’t forget the cheese. A lot of cheese. I used mozzarella and smoked cheddar, but other cheeses such as smoked mozzarella would perfectly work.
Yup, a lot of cheese. Don’t judge me, please.
Does this Ratatouille Mac and Cheese sound mouthwatering? If not, add MORE cheese!
End enjoy this gooey goodness.
You deserve that!
What’s your favorite mac and cheese version? What’s the most unusual components you’ve incorporated in it? And lastly, what kind of my strengths I forgot to mention above?:)
Delicious, gooey, and flavorful Ratatouille Mac and Cheese - perfect summer version!
- about 1 pound pasta (400-450 gr)
- 1 cup grated hard mozzarella
- 2 cups grated smoked cheddar
- 1 cup fresh basil (I used mix of green, purple, thai, and cinnamon basils)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium white onion, chopped (2/3-1 cup)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 medium eggplant, cubed (2 cups)
- 1 small zucchini, cubed (1 cup)
- 3 kumato tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh savory
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- salt, to taste
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- In a pot of salted water cook the pasta until al dente (even one-two minutes less). Drain.
- In a meanwhile, melt the butter and oil and cook the onion and garlic, until nice and translucent, for a few minutes.
- Add the eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes and saute for 5-7 minutes until start to soften but still firm.
- Throw the herbs and season. Cook for additional 5 minutes or so until all flavors have incorporated.
- In a meanwhile, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the milk and cream cheese and bring almost to a boil allowing the cheese to melt. Season with the nutmeg and some salt if necessary. Cook for a few minutes to thicken.Off heat.
- Preheat the oven to 190-200 degrees C (400 degrees F).
- To assemble, mix the cooked pasta, veggies, white sauce, cheeses, and basil. Transfer to a large baking dish or two smaller.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until gooey and bubbly. I recommend covering the top with foil, at leat for a half of the recommended time.
- Increase temperature and grill the pasta for a few minutes to have a nicely golden crust.