January has arrived with a new year (finally!). Some folks might be making healthy salads, a superfood smoothie, or a vegetable-packed grain bowl. All of which sound delicious. But not every day can be salad day and we have some options for you beyond a bowl of greens. Please consider, a creamy pasta bake to counterbalance all that roughage. Like a macaroni and cheese, or mushrooms with whole wheat pasta, or chicken and spaghetti as a homey casserole. Comfort food is mental health food, something we all need. Cozy up to any of our recipes this week, maybe with a salad on the side. You know, for balance.
Chicken Spaghetti, Healthy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Bake, and Grant’s Mac and Cheese
True, this is chicken and spaghetti. But it is also comfort in a casserole-style creamy pasta bake. Spaghetti noodles are cooked in the poaching liquid for a whole chicken, then combined with cream of mushroom soup, some diced peppers, and cheese for good measure. Bake it up, spoon it out, and remember how satisfying a simple dinner can be.
- This recipe halved well.
- Betsy added mushrooms to her bake and loved the result. We think you could add cooked spinach or peas with good results, if you are looking to add more vegetables.
- Take advantage of the Pioneer Woman’s advice and freeze this
Sometimes we get lucky and find a recipe that ticks more than one box. This creamy pasta bake with mushrooms, whole wheat pasta, and a cauliflower sauce is vegetarian (or vegan), delivers on nutrition, and is delicious. So good this recipe was one of the few times we regretted halving it!
- Whole wheat pasta is perfect for this recipe but we did substitute a chickpea pasta. That pasta worked well.
- Make this creamy bake as an opportunity to showcase some fancy or seasonal mushrooms, if you are lucky enough to have them.
Look, we are under no illusions that macaroni and cheese is a deeply personal issue for some folks. If you have a recipe you love, please go ahead with our blessing and request for a recipe. However, if like us, you’re still looking for your favorite this one might be it. The sauce is extra creamy, even after baking, and the bacon and paprika are excellent additions. Let’s consider this yet another entry in the big wide world of delicious macaroni and cheese.
- We think you could probably halve this, but honestly why would you? Make the whole pan and deliver (socially distanced) to a neighbor.
- Omitting the bacon is doable. Consider using smoked paprika instead of sweet if you do so.
- We made this for kids with lower tolerance for spicy foods and omitted the cayenne.
From the Smorgasbord:
We looked back to last year and the year before for some favorite recipes:
- Sweet Potato Quesadillas: Episode 96
- Caldo Verde Soup: Episode 44
- Moroccan Tagine with Apricots and Figs: Episode 49
It’s that time of year again! Check your baking soda and smell your spices!