All recipes for 4 to 6 unless otherwise noted.
Mac 4 Cheese (with Leeks)
Soundtrack: “Amampondo” by Miriam Makeba from Africa
This is a reinvention of the macaroni and cheese that my mom made when I was growing up. With leeks, too.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 thinly sliced large leeks*, white and light green parts only
2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup grated fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
· Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
· Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add 2 teaspoons salt. When the water returns to a boil, stir in the pasta and cook until al dente (about 6 minutes). Drain the pasta and set aside.
· Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add leeks and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until they start browning. Set aside.
· Warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour. Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds, until a darker shade of brown.
· Raise the heat to medium. Add the milk, whisking constantly, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes, until thickened.
· Reduce the heat to low, add the balsamic vinegar, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 cup of the cheddar, 1/2 cup of the pepper jack, the mozzarella, and Parmesan to the white sauce and stir until smooth. Season with black pepper to taste.
· Add the leeks and macaroni to the white sauce. Gently stir well and pour into the baking dish.
· Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup pepper jack over the top and garnish with the chopped rosemary.
· Bake 35-40 minutes until lightly brown and crispy on the top. Serve hot.
Cut the greens off, leaving only the light green and white bottom, then cut off the roots. Slice the remaining part in half lengthwise, and thinly slice them horizontally. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Add the leek slices, and swish around well, vigorously, rubbing any dirt and sand off of the pieces. Lift from the water and set them aside. Rinse the bowl of any residue and repeat if necessary.
Fresh Apple-Cranberry Sauce
Soundtrack: “You” by Q-Tip from The Renaissance
After eating this, you’ll never eat canned cranberry sauce again. This version uses fresh cranberries, apples and tangerine juice. It’s so naturally sweet and yummy you could even eat it as dessert.
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed
1 cup peeled and diced sweet-tart apples such as Braeburn, Early Crisp or Gala
1/2 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice (or fresh orange juice)
2 tablespoons organic raw cane sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
· In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until soft with some chunks remaining, stirring every 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature. Refrigerate. Serve cool.