Pasta Shells with Gouda Cheese
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was craving comfort food (i.e., something really unhealthy). As I watched The Food Network, one of the shows featured a macaroni and cheese dish. It looked incredible and was exactly what I was in the mood for; however, I didn’t want to make some huge casserole dish. I do have my limits when eating super unhealthy dishes so I needed to come up with my own single serving version.
For my single serving version, I figured I could just make a cheese sauce to mix with pasta shells. I did some research on cheese sauces and basically learned that you just make a white sauce and then add the cheese. I can do that! So I headed to the market and perused the cheese isle. I found gouda cheese, which sounded perfect, so I grabbed it and headed back home.
This dish ended up being pretty easy to make, and the final product was sooo luxuriously rich and tasty. The shells perfectly held the sauce to ensure every bite was a rich bite. I also added chopped sage as a garnish, but as it turns out the flavor of the sage really complimented the gouda cheese and brought a freshness to the dish.
If you prefer to cut down on the richness, just using all whole milk instead of incorporating the heavy cream should be fine. Also, when choosing your gouda cheese, find one that is relatively soft (i.e., it has not been aged for terribly long). The softer it is, the easier it will melt.
Okay, here is my recipe for the special shells and cheese:
- 1 large serving of shell pasta (or 2 small servings)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup grated gouda cheese
- dash of paprika
- healthy dose of fresh ground pepper
- salt to taste
- chopped sage
- Start boiling water in a large pot and prepare the pasta per the directions on the box.
- Meanwhile, over medium low heat in a sauce pan add butter and melt.
- Whisk in flour and let cook a minute or two.
- Add milk, heavy cream, and bay leaf. Whisk frequently until the milk is hot. If needed, turn the heat up a little bit.
- Remove bay leaf and then add the cheese. Continuously stir until all melted.
- Mix in paprika, pepper, and salt.
- Once pasta is ready, drain and mix in with cheese sauce. (If sauce is ready before the pasta, you can just keep over very low heat, stirring frequently).
- Serve with chopped sage on top.