After cooking on Easter Sunday we realized the recipe (actually more like jotted down notes) made 2 pies instead of 1 (don't worry the recipe in my blog only makes 1 pie). So my mom made too much orzo, ham and wheat berries (she made these items the night before) so we had a ton of leftovers. I took the orzo that was cooked in water, some wheat berries and some ham.
A few days ago I ate about 1/2 cup of the wheat berries with 1 tsp of honey (good raw honey) and it was delicious and really filling. It was super easy to make at work in the microwave and a nice break from oatmeal. I suppose you could put them over yogurt with some flaxseed or eat them with dairy or non dairy milk like a cereal. They are nice and hearty, but since we had so many leftovers I froze the rest.
Now what to do with the orzo and ham? Well my mom bought me beautiful skinny asparagus and I like to use fresh veggies right away because the longer you keep them the more they lose vital nutrients. I figured I could make Mac N Cheese since I had a lot of cheese in my fridge and then add the cooked ham in for Domenick (my husband). I always have a bunch of cheeses on hand, which is good for simple suppers, or even breakfast or lunch! I had Parmesan and Locatelli but I didn't want an alfredo style and I prefer cream or half and half with my alfredo and I only had milk in the fridge. I also had an Italian cheese that was semi-hard and similar to a good aged provolone, which we all know doesn't melt well, so that was out. I had baby swiss, but that was a little too mild for a cheese sauce and I would need far more cheese than I had to get a real swiss flavor. Then I thought I have smoked gouda, PERFECT it will give me a smoky flavor so I won't miss the ham and it will also compliment the ham. I also added some sharp cheddar just to cut the gouda because it's such a rich cheese. I also made Asparagus Alla' Susie (my sister in law)
Orzo Mac N Cheese with Smoked Gouda and Cheddar1/2 cup of grated Smoked Gouda (a box grater does nicely with these type of cheeses)
1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar
1 1/2 cup of milk room temperature
about 3 tbs of butter
about 2 tbs of flour
about a 3/4lb-lb of orzo (sorry it was precooked I have no idea how much I used so I'm just guessing. If you make too much you will have left over orzo if you make to little you'll have left over cheese sauce. So make what you want and you can always add the left over orzo to stock and some veggies and make soup or pour the cheese sauce over steamed broccoli or cauliflower.)
Pepper to taste
First make sure you grate your cheese (It grates better when it is just taken out of the fridge) and keep it handy you don't want your sauce to be ready and then have to grate cheese, trust me I learned the hard way! Put your water on to boil for the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box. Then start the sauce by making a roux. How to make a roux: add your butter to your pan (use a large pan so you can add the pasta to the sauce). Melt the butter on low. When the butter melts stir in the flour until there are no lumps. You want a thickened butter for this sauce, not a paste-like roux you may need to thicken other sauces. Cook the flour taste out of the roux, about 1-2 minutes, and then add the milk. At this point I still have this on low because you do not want to curdle the milk. Stir the roux and milk together with a wooden spoon. Then bring the milk up to medium (do not boil the milk you just want to heat it a little more so that the cheese will melt). Once the roux has mixed with the milk and the milk begins to thicken stir in black or white pepper and then stir in the cheese with a wooden spoon, stirring in a figure 8 pattern (trust me it works). Your pasta should be done (or you could use left over pasta like I did) then drain your pasta and add it to the cheese sauce stirring together to make sure the cheese coats all of the pasta. Take it off the heat and serve immediately.
If you would like to add cooked ham or cooked veggies you would do so when you add the pasta to the sauce making sure not to break up the veggies or the pasta. Since I did not want ham in mine, I cooked it separately, which is a good idea if you like broccoli in your Mac N Cheese and someone else in your fam likes meat. For the ham, you can either cook it in a pan with some spray (it will brown like when making a ham steak), cook it in a pan with a little bit of water, or microwave it. It's your choice. I prefer cooking it in some water that way it doesn't dry out or brown up. Then I add the ham to just his Mac N Cheese. As you can see from the picture I gave him too much but that's ok because he can eat it for lunch at work.
Asparagus Alla' Susie (my variation)1 bunch of asparagus
half a lemon
2-3 cloves of sliced or minced garlic (depending on the size of the clove and how much you love garlic, I love it)
about 1 tbs of evoo if the water evaporates and there is not enough evoo to coat your asparagus go ahead and add more
a splash of white wine (I like pinot grigio or sauv blanc for this, but whatever you have on hand will do)
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the asparagus and either break the tough bottoms off using the hold and snap method (for some reason I prefer doing this) or break a few and see where they break and cut the rest. Don't worry about drying them, I like to leave them a little wet so they steam a little and stay crisp (I added this step, Susie dries her so if you want a more cooked asparagus I suggest drying them but you will need to add more evoo to coat the asparagus). After washing and breaking them I add them directly to the pan, like I said before if you want them crisp they should still be a little wet. Heat the pan with the asparagus and add some evoo I say about 1 tbs. Cook for a little maybe 4 minutes on low with a lid make sure to stir it so one side does not get brown while the others stay raw. Then add the garlic because if you add the garlic right away it will burn. I have this awesome product from pampered chef (on my products I love page) that slices the garlic to look like slivered almonds and I always use it when I make this recipe because it looks so pretty. Salt and Pepper to taste, put the lid back on and cook on low if you like crisp asparagus. Please keep an eye on it because burnt garlic is gross! Cook this until the asparagus is almost at the tenderness you want and before the garlic begins to brown. Then add a small splash of white wine and cook the alcohol out. When you take it off the heat squeeze a bit of lemon juice (fresh preferred) on it and toss. Now its done and delicious! You can also add shaved or grated parm but since we were eating it with Mac N Cheese I decided against adding even more cheese.