It’s hard for me to pinpoint what my favorite food in the world would be – but I’d have to say it’s any form of macaroni and cheese. Pasta = comfort to me! There’s something so nostalgic about macaroni and cheese. Any kind brings me back to being little and eating a bowl of Kraft spirals. In fact, even as an adult I still sometimes prefer to have that over a homemade or more sophisticated version!
There are so many different varieties of mac and cheese (lobster + cheese and pasta, best idea ever?) but unfortunately, so many of them make the classic dish even more fattening and indulgent. Let’s be real - it’s hard to get around the richness of macaroni and cheese, and for me, it’s OK to indulge every once in awhile. But when I want a version that feels a little lighter, I go for my family’s simple recipe of garden macaroni and cheese. I grew up eating this, and my mother referred to it as “garden skillet” because it comes together easily on the stovetop in one pan. It’s a great version of mac and cheese for summer, and a wonderful way to utilize the bounty of your garden by combining all the lusciousness of macaroni and cheese with the more healthful and tasty spring vegetables.
My secret ingredient for all of my homemade macaroni and cheese is very simple: a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup. I like this dish loose and creamy (as opposed to the more stiff, casserole type macaroni and cheese), and adding a can of this secret weapon into the rest of the ingredients achieves the creamy consistency and also supplements the cheesiness of the regular cheddar, along with some sort of je ne sais quoi hint of unique flavor!
Best of all, you can play around with the ingredients if you’d like. Instead of using zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and basil, what else can you interchange to make your own garden mac and cheese? Hope you enjoy!
Garden Skillet Mac and Cheese
• 2 cups diced zucchini
• ½ cup diced onion
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
• 1 can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
• 1 pound cooked elbow macaroni
• 1 16 oz can chopped tomatoes with juice
• 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
In skillet, heat butter or margarine over medium heat. Sauté onion and zucchini with basil for a few minutes until crisp-tender. Add remaining ingredients. Heat until cheese melts, stirring occasionally