While I’ve always been a foodie and enjoyed gourmet foods more than most, I’ve never been what you call a “food snob.” I’ll eat pretty much anything if tastes good, and when I was a kid, I had major love affair with boxed pasta. You name it, I liked it. Kraft mac and cheese. Hamburger helper. Shells and cheese. Ramen.
But my favorite of all of them?? Pasta Roni.
Embarrassing, but unfortunately very true.
Still, to this day, when my husband is out of town and I don’t feel like cooking, I’m tempted to meander down the boxed food isle and pick up a box of that creamy garlicky Pasta Roni I loved so dearly. Except something stops me.
When I pause and think logically about it, in the time it takes me to go to the grocery store, pick up a box of pasta, come home and make it, I could have made the same exact thing from scratch in a fraction of the time. On top of that, I can triple the size of what the box produces for the same price, making it big enough to actually feed a family of four and not just one person. So obviously making it at home is an easy decision to make.
I wanted to ensure that everything was still cooked in one pot, because isn’t that really what the luster is with the boxed pastas? There’s only one pot to clean, eliminating much of the mess that so often comes with home cooking. Since one-pot meals are such a craze right now, this fits in perfectly with the wants and needs of today’s society. And lord knows, I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to messes. You don’t even want to imagine the state my kitchen is in after most meal preparations.
The “sauce” begins traditionally with a roux, a mixture of equal parts butter and flour, that’s whisked together over a medium heat with a little bit of chopped garlic until the flour taste is cooked out and the garlic has slightly softened. Warm skim milk, chicken stock and salt are then whisked in and brought to a boil. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, angel hair pasta is dropped in, the heat is turned down to a medium-low and simmered until the pasta is aldente and the sauce has thickened.
You could use a different kind of pasta, but you will have to add more liquid; because angel hair is so thin, it cooks up ridiculously fast making it the perfect pasta for one-pot cooking. A thin spaghetti or even a wide egg noodle would probably also work and cook in approximately the same amount of time.
The beauty of this is the pasta soaks up the liquid, while simultaneously releasing some of the starchiness inherently imbedded in it, which in turn, creates this irresistibly creamy sauce that makes twirling noodles on to your fork a cinch.
Once the pasta is fully cooked, and most of the liquid is evaporated, I throw in a handful of good quality parmesan cheese (pecorino romano would also work), a good amount of chopped flat-leaf parsley and then season with salt and pepper.
If your sauce isn’t loose enough, you can add a touch more chicken stock to make it the perfect consistency. I served the noodles as is, but if you want to add a bit more protein, an easy way to do that would be to add a sliced, grilled chicken or some quickly sautéed shrimp. You could even throw in some chopped broccoli prior to the noodles finishing to bulk up the health factor even more. The variations are really endless on this easy pasta.
Perfect garlickly, creamy noodles, just like I remember.
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