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QUICK FIX

It's the Cheeses

April 15, 1998|CHARITY FERREIRA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There is macaroni and cheese the color of an emergency road sign, and then there is pasta and cheese sauce, a more grown-up way to feed those childlike cravings for comfort food. This saucepan shells and cheese dish is the latter. I often eat the pasta with a green salad and, for dessert, brownies. It's always best to bake your own brownies, but on a busy weeknight you can always pick some up at the market or a bakery.

* Ferreira, a former Times Food section intern, is a pastry chef at Greens in San Francisco.

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Saucepan Shells and Cheese

Green salad

Brownies

SAUCEPAN SHELLS AND CHEESE

1 (1-pound) package pasta shells

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/4 cups milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 large shallot, peeled and halved

1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper

Pinch nutmeg

2 ounces goat cheese

1/4 pound grated white Cheddar cheese

6 ounces fontina or fresh asiago cheese

Cook shells in pot of boiling water to cover according to package directions until just tender to the bite, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat. Incorporate flour into melted butter with small whisk or wooden spoon. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Do not let butter brown. Whisk in milk and chicken broth. Add shallot halves. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove shallot halves. Add mustard, salt, pepper to taste and nutmeg.

Stir in goat, Cheddar and fontina cheeses over low heat, whisking gently until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Toss drained shells with cheese sauce.

4 servings. Each serving:

817 calories; 1,127 mg sodium; 99 mg cholesterol; 32 grams fat; 92 grams carbohydrates; 39 grams protein; 0.38 gram fiber.

Shopping List

1 log goat cheese

1/4 pound white Cheddar cheese

1/2 pound fontina cheese

1 package brownies

1 head lettuce

Staples

1 (1-pound) package pasta shells

Canned chicken broth

Nutmeg

Salt, pepper

Shallots

Prepared Mustard

Milk

Butter

Flour

Oil

Vinegar

Countdown:

30 minutes before: Bring water to a boil for pasta. Grate cheese; peel shallot. Wash lettuce for salad.

20 minutes before: Begin making sauce.

15 minutes before: Cook pasta; finish sauce. Make vinaigrette and toss with salad, then chill.

5 minutes before: Drain pasta and add sauce.

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