Once in a while restaurants will tout a menu as the “grown-up” version of something, usually a classic dish like pizza. You know, pizza with sriracha sauce or something that now has pickled stuff and eggs on top. I will now do my best impression of this (though hopefully even more tasty) and offer a delicious mac and cheese (though there really is very little cheese) version that grown-ups, and maybe some adventurous kids, will enjoy.
I often buy vegetables this time of year without a plan. This happened with a bunch of leeks. I love leeks and always find something to do with them, whether it is just sauteing them and eating with eggs or making a soup. This time, I wanted to use them up for a nice lunch. The Vegetarian said why not pasta. This got me thinking of using macaroni, making a quick bechamel sauce, throwing in some shiitake mushrooms and some fresh herbs. The result was absolute deliciousness. Here’s what you do…
10 Oz macaroni
2-3 medium/large leeks, thinly sliced*
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
7 or 8 large shiitake mushrooms, stem removed, thinly sliced
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used lactose free)
1 tablespoon fresh sage and thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
*Normally you want to clean leeks prior to cutting, but here, since you will be cutting them into thin pieces, you can rinse in a colander to remove dirt. You want to use the leek up until the edge of the tender lighter green part.
Cook pasta in heavily salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add leeks and increase heat to medium. Cook 5 minutes, until leeks start to become tender. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are tender and leeks are slightly browned, 5-7 more minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, add butter and cook on medium-low. Once melted, whisk in flour and cook until light to medium brown, about 5 minutes. Add milk, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking continuously to ensure it is smooth. Once all milk is added, bring to low boil, continue stirring another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Strain pasta, reserving 1 cup water, and add pasta to large saute pan. Add bechamel sauce and herbs. Mix well and add pasta water if sauce is too thick. Season again with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!!