Comfort

snowy day at the officeIn all my crêpe cake sadness, I overshadowed one great culinary success. The day after my birthday, I came home and just threw together a simple mac and cheese based on a vague craving and no recipe. It was really good, and it was even better leftover for lunch, especially on the seriously snowy day we just had.

I used rainbow chard, which was the only one at the grocery store, but other chard varieties, or any other hearty leafy green, would work well, too. You can also vary the cheeses as you like. I wanted something vegetarian, but I suspect bacon would be amazing in this. Maybe next time.

Blue Chard Shells and Cheese

Blue Chard Shells

  • 1 pound shells, or other short pasta of choice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated, washed and chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bread crumbs

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk briskly until smooth. Slowly add the milk and cream (I put them together in a measuring cup), whisking continuously. Lower the heat and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until thickening. Add the mozzarella and blue cheese and cook, whisking frequently, until the cheese melts and the sauce is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

In the pasta pot or a skillet over medium heat, cook the shallot in a little olive oil until translucent (a minute or two). Add the Swiss chard stems and cook until tender. Add the leaves and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the pasta in the baking dish. Top with the chard-shallot mixture. Pour the sauce over the top and stir until evenly mixed. Sprinkle the top with a light layer of bread crumbs.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

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