When I was younger, I never liked cheese by itself- something about the smell and the texture just weirded me out. But nowadays, I can never get enough- especially if it's mac and cheese! When I saw this recipe in Food and Wine, it intrigued me because it was such a different take on "healthy" mac and cheese.
I do have to say, my first attempt at the recipe — minus tarragon, and with more cheese — was way too bland and carroty/orange-y (yes, it called for juice and zest from an orange). This time, I nixed the orange, added half an onion with the carrots, and made sure to put in plenty of salt. The result? Not bad at all!
I'm also including a song in this post, because a few weeks ago I remembered Epitonic, this website that I used to visit regularly in high school. They posted all this awesome indie music for you to listen to and download, along with an in-depth description of the band and suggestions of similar artists. This was the place where I first discovered Spoon, who is now one of my favorite bands. The website is pretty much defunct and very difficult to navigate properly (it died shortly after they redesigned it), but the music is still up there. I browsed through and got a whole bunch of new music, but this one in particular jumped out at me.
Etienne de Rocher - Out to Sea. (Artist page here.)
Carrot Macaroni and Cheese
(adapted from Food and Wine)
- 3 medium or large carrots, sliced thinly
- 1/2 small white onion, diced
- zest (in large strips) and juice of one small navel orange (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups penne rigate or other short pasta
- 6 to 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350*F.
- In a medium saucepan, combine carrots, onion, orange zest/juice, and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are soft. Discard the zest, then puree the rest of the mixture in a blender until smooth.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 to 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot, along with the carrot puree and water, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is coated with a thickened sauce, about five minutes.
- Stir in 3/4 of your cheese and cook, stirring, until creamy, about two to three minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon.
- Transfer the pasta to a medium baking dish and top off with the rest of the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand for five minutes before serving.
Enjoy! I will probably be making a post for zucchini bread some time soon, after I make it this weekend.