Pasta with cheese sauce – multiple successes!
Time to play catch-up (not ketchup, or catsup, which I have run out of, unfortunately for me that time I made burgers…) and post a few experiments that I’ve done over the past few months that I’ve been too lazy to post. I feel a little bit bad about it, but hopefully this will make up for it.
I don’t know why I did this, but I decided I’d like to try to make a creamy cheese sauce for my pasta one night. My first try went very well, although I definitely think I overdid the red pepper flakes – it’s so easy to do because they look so festive! – and as a result it was a bit spicier than intended. It was still delicious though, so I count it as a win.
It’s been a while since I made this, so I can’t recall exactly how it was done. I can you a vague idea, though, in case you want to try a recipe-less cream sauce… It’s a great dish. The way I made it was quick and easy, resulting in a tasty meal. I have pictures from two separate times preparing it.
Of course I made too much pasta as usual. Part of the problem with cooking for one person is that it’s hard to cook single portions when you learned to cook for at least two people originally. There’s nothing wrong with leftovers, of course, although this dish is definitely much better when fresh. There’s probably a way to make cheese sauce that keeps better, but then I’d have to follow a recipe. Plus, I used angel hair this time, which is never as good in leftovers form. My recommendation would be linguine, regular spaghetti, or some fun shaped pasta like penne or rotini. I love rotini! The little corkscrew kind. It’s the most awesome pasta shape.
I got a little sidetracked just then – I was going to say that the biggest problem with cooking for one is that it never seems worth the effort of making something fancy or involved. That’s why I like this non-recipe so much. You end up with a somewhat decadent dish, but it didn’t take too much time or any fancy ingredients.
This time, I’d used a bit more cheese, and I tossed the tomatoes in long enough to cook a little, giving the whole sauce a bit more of an orange color, and an even richer flavor. I definitely recommend this method.
Before I go, I’m going to give you a quick non-recipe of this just in case you want to make it yourself.
Your choice of pasta
cream (I usually use half and half, because that’s what’s available)
your choice of cheese, shredded. I recommend mozzarella, parmesan would also be good I guess, or one of those italian blends you can buy at the store.
tomatoes, any kind, chopped
optional: garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, thyme, mixed herbs, onion, oregano. Just go with whatever flavors strike you.
Note: cook pasta while you’re making the sauce. I generally start boiling the water at the same time as I start the sauce. You don’t want the pasta to have too much time to cool, especially if it’s angel hair, but you also don’t want to make the sauce wait.
1. Start by melting some butter in a medium saucepan on low heat. Use enough that you have a bit of a puddle, meaning more than what you’d use just to coat the pan. You definitely want to keep the heat low the whole time, because you don’t want the sauce the boil, but not too low, because you want it to cook… you’ll get the hang of it.
2. When the butter is just about melted, add some cream or half and half. A tablespoon or two should do.
3. Add cheese a little at a time, stirring continuously. It will melt into the sauce as you go, and you can add as little or as much as you want until you get the desired consistency.
4. Now’s the time to add your herbs. Sprinkle in a little basil, oregano, ground black pepper, salt – whatever you feel like. Stir as you go.
5. If you want to cook tomatoes into the sauce, you would add them now. Your pasta should already be cooking.
6. Continue stirring sauce. If you let it sit too long it will probably thicken and be very unappetizing. If you find your sauce is getting a little thick, add a little more cream and stir until combined. That should improve the sauciness and not alter the flavor.
7. When pasta is cooked to an al dente consistency, drain and add to saucepan. With heat still on low, stir in pasta to distribute sauce throughout. If you didn’t put the tomatoes directly in the sauce, stir them in as well.
Now you’re ready to eat. Have fun!