Last week I finished uploading all our June road trip photos onto Flickr and it made me a little wistful. I love traveling and exploring new places and it made me wonder where this bug came from. My parents didn’t really travel very much, though my mom made several yearly visits to her family in Quebec. My dad hated going along on those trips so he stayed home while we went away. Maybe it was all the French speaking that gave him worry – English was already his second language and French probably seemed like an extra bother. So off we went, my brother, my mom and me, to the cottage, or to visit all my relatives. Baking tarte au sucre with my grandmaman, going for long walks with grandpapa and fashioning walking sticks out of fallen tree branches, and making time for lots and lots of swimming. At the end of the two weeks, my dad would meet us at the train station and life would get back to normal.
But when I think back to the stories my dad would tell us, many of them were funny stories of him traveling. Like hailing a cab in New York City and asking to be driven to The Lamplighter (the cabbie did a u-turn and let him off across the street). Or hanging out on a boat in Atlantic City with some off-duty ice skaters from a famous touring ice show (the black and white proof can be found in my dad’s photo album). Or wandering into a Florida lesbian bar by mistake in the 1960s. And my parents met while each vacationing in Atlantic City, after all. This from a dad that never travelled. But then I think of the photos that made me emotional and they were the ones of my 3 month old and 2 and a half year old nieces. Home can pull on the heartstrings for sure.
Vancouver isn’t my hometown, but I’ve made it my home. I love it here and I can say there’s nothing better than returning from a long trip and falling into the comfort of being home. And nothing says comfort than making up a batch of macaroni and cheese. I decided to make a stove-top version because it’s summer and I’m not too interested in turning on the oven at the moment. I also decided to make use of the kale from our CSA and found an idea from Bon Appetit that purees the kale and blends it into a traditional cheese sauce. It’s a brilliant idea because you don’t get large bits of leafy greens caught in your teeth and you can keep the pickier eaters guessing. What you get is something very creamy and colourful that feels just a bit healthier than your standard version, yet completely delicious.
I used some short tube shaped pasta because that’s what drew my eye at my local Italian deli, but any short pasta will do. But I will push you to go for a pasta that is tube-shaped rather than something like a rotini corkscrew-thing-a-ma-jigger. Reason: the tube naturally provides more of a hiding space for all that kale-cheesy goodness. Each bite becomes more better and more creamtastic and hella slurpier. Just trust. And enjoy.
elsewhere: Last week I baked up some chewy lime & coconut sugar cookies over at Poppytalk. Thank me later.
stovetop kale mac & cheese
This is a good dish for summer since you don’t need your oven, however this would be lovely baked in the fall & winter. Just transfer the mac and cheese into a baking dish, top with toasted & buttered breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375F until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
250 g short tube pasta
2 T butter
3 T flour
1 t salt
1/2 t aleppo pepper
good grind of black pepper
1 t olive oil
2 green onions, diced
1 bunch of kale, sliced thinly
1/4 c vegetable stock
2 c whole milk
1 c grated cheese (I used a mix of manchego, old cheddar, havarti)
a few hits of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauce pan and add in the green onions, let them sweat for a minute. Add in the kale and the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Remove from pan and blend with a hand blender in a large tumbler or use a traditional blender. Blend to a sauce-like consistency. Set aside.
3. Melt butter in the same sauce pan you just used for the kale. Add flour, salt, and peppers. Stir until mixed, about a minute – you want to cook off the flour so it doesn’t lend a pasty flavour to the dish. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk until you’ve got a thick sauce (you may not need all the milk). Stir in the cheese and hot sauce. Pour in the blended kale and give a good stir. Add in the cooked pasta, tossing to combine. Serve immediately. Makes 6-8 servings.
Sounds delicious! I’ll have to bookmark for when I’m needing some comfort food.
Ooh, I’ve been waiting for this one since your IG photo! Looks delicious and super easy, can’t wait to give it a go with the huge head of kale currently in my fridge!
Very clever! We will try this.
this looks so delicious and perfect! you’ve opened my eyes to macaroni and cheese (something i never ever had as a child). the first time i made it, it was from one of your older posts and it was delicious. i can’t wait to try this one out. thanks!
i snuck kale into potato salad last week and everyone who thought they would hate it, loved it!
Mmmm, this looks like the perfect meal to return home to. Warm, wholesome and delicious. I also love kale!
I love your cheese mix, yum! The kale addition sounds good and makes it pretty, too.
Kale in mac & cheese is a perfect plan–get your comfort food, but cram in those greens at the same time! Hooray!
This looks perfect! My CSA has had some kale in it this season, my kids love mac ‘n’ cheese (of course), and anything that is advertised as “more creamtastic” has to be delicious!
Thanks Amanda, this does provide some very yummy comfort.
Hope you enjoy it, Amanda 🙂
Karen, I’m sure you’ll like this one a whole lot.
It’s funny, because I never thought I was hiding the kale, Alana. I love kale and so does the husband! But I can see that this would be a good strategy for picky eaters 🙂
Thanks Erica – perfect for kale and mac n’ cheese lovers.
It worked out well – just my cheese scraps! Nicole, can’t go wrong with cheese.
Ha, enjoy Gretchen!
Yum! I love that you cooked this on the stovetop AND added kale to it!
Fallen tree branches really do make the best walking sticks.
Last week I whipped up some arugula pesto and stirred it into an alfredo sauce. It was a good idea.
Very little tastes more like home to me than mac and cheese. And kale never hurts. Love this!
This looks good! And somewhat healthier, which could justify making mac and cheese… I like it!
Oooh – this looks delicious. I wish I had seen it a couple of days ago when I made my big head of kale part of a hash as I was out of ideas. It was good but this looks yummy. To the market for more kale I think.
Yup, what’s not to love, Sue 🙂
I know, Molly, such memories! I like your good idea too.
Thanks Joanne, it’s so so good. The kale works wonders.
Hag, make up a batch & enjoy!
Charlotte, there’s plenty of time for kale. Enjoy!
Mmmmm! I like creamy pasta that has hiding places to hold extra creaminess 🙂 Great story about family and travel. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Bijoux 🙂
I’ve had this bookmarked to try, because it looks sooooooooo good. Plus, any chance I can sneak in kale, I take, lol. So thanks for that. 🙂
Just one question. When you say a bunch…how much do you mean? I tend to buy mine loose, so I’m not sure how much to use.
Sigrid, sorry for the late response – I was away! I’d say about 6-8 big leaves or so. I think you can get away with a bit more or less since it’s not an exact science. I get mine currently from our CSA and they’re not in bunches either, but I eyeball it. Hope you get to try it out!
Thanks SarahLouiseJames & Nicola!
I made this and it was well received. I discarded the kale ribs (should have read the stick blender part first). I needed one cup of stock to cook the kale and turn it into a sauce, but I think that’s because my “bunch” of kale was about 10 large stalks. The sharpness of the kale is mellowed by the sauce, and the aleppo pepper adds a nice touch of fruit/spice. It would probably be a good way to sneak veggies into a kid’s meal (sans hot sauce).
Robert, Glad you enjoyed this mac n’ cheese. It’s definitely a keeper.
What a great idea. When I buy kale, I am always looking for different ways to use it. Thanks for sharing this excellent recipe.
My husband made this with collard greens, all we had for green veggies in the house, and it was totally delicious and comforting. Thank you!
This sounds amazing! It seems like a great way to make mac and cheese a little healthier by adding kale. Looks delicious!
Made this with preferential adaptations. So frickin’ delicious!