Several weeks ago, during the craziness of our Christmas preparations, I spent the day shopping with my mom and my kids. It was a cold, grey, windy morning and I was already frazzled and quite agitated at the crowds of people and the insane traffic. And I was so hungry. Since I'm not much of a breakfast eater, I'd left the house that morning with nothing more than 3 cups of coffee. That wasn't helping my mood any. So, between the chaotic stores, we stopped at the nearby Olive Garden to rest awhile, enjoy lunch, and regain our sanity.
As soon as we were seated I asked for a food allergy menu for E (as I always do when eating out). The cheerful manager was quickly sent over (as they always are) to answer any questions I might have. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the entire menu (save for one dessert) was safe for people with peanut allergies! I'm always a little nervous when eating out with E, and this put me at ease immediately.
C, who was weaned to Parmesan cheese as a baby, picked out his favorite pasta - Penne a.k.a. Swiper ears (because if you split them lengthwise they look like the fox's ears on Dora the Explorer). My little, budding gourmand chose a Parmesan-Butter sauce to complement his pasta. I'm telling you, that was the best thing any of us had to eat that day! In fact, Mugga (my mom) and I kept stealing bites off his plate.
We ended up having a lovely day, and I came home dreaming of re-creating that pasta. Here's what I came up with. Served with fresh fruit, this is one of my kids favorite lunches. Normally I add a pinch of nutmeg to my Bechamel sauces, but this one actually tastes better without it. I love the pure, nutty flavor of the cheese with just a warm hint of garlic. This recipe makes enough to serve two hungry kids and one hungry mama for lunch. If you want to make a larger batch simply double the recipe.
Penne with Parmesan Butter Sauce
1/3 lb (152 g) mini penne
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
2 tsp flour
3/4 cup organic whole milk, warmed slightly
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a medium sauce pan, cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside. Turn the heat to low and, in the same pan, slowly melt the butter and the whole garlic clove together until they both begin to brown. Be careful not to burn the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and take out the garlic. Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the warm milk and turn the heat to medium. Whisk until the sauce boils and is thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese and a good pinch of salt. Stir until the cheese has melted, then toss the pasta in the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with freshly ground pepper on top.
P.S. I need your help deciding on a name for this blog! Please let me know what you think.
shared with: mangia mondays, melt in your mouth monday, monday mania, hearth and soul, full plate thursday, family fresh meals