Friday, March 29, 2013

LFDs : Tomato Soup Mac and Cheesey Quinoa

So here is the last of my Lent Friendly features since Lent is coming to a close this week.  We've got Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese and Cheesey Quinoa and Asparagus Bake!  Both of these can be served as sides or main entrees but given their richness I would suggest them as a side.

Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese
(This makes 3 to 4 large side servings)
- 1/2 lb. pasta (I used penne)
- 2/3 c. ricotta cheese
- 2/3 c. aged cheddar, shredded
- 1 (10 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
- 10 oz. (about one soup can) skim milk

- Preheat oven to 350.  Divide aged cheddar so you have a couple tablespoons left to sprinkle on top.
- Cook pasta until just barely al dente (1/2 the cooking time listed on the box), drain pasta, do not rinse, you want the noodles still hot.
- In a large mixing bowl mix pasta and ricotta.  Stir in the shredded cheddar then the tomato soup and milk until well combined.
- Pour into a greased baking dish (preferably 8x8 or individual ramekins) and bake for 25 minutes.
- Sprinkle reserved cheddar on top, place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese starts browning and bubbling.

- Remove from oven, let cool a couple minutes and serve.

This was very tasty!  Chris and I had some raised eyebrows at the name but were very pleased with the end result.  The original recipe I found uses harder to find dairy ingredients like Ludlow and Quark so I did my best to simplify.  Again, this is rather rich with the cheese so it's probably best as a side.

Cheesey Quinoa and Asparagus Bake
(This makes 5 to 6 side servings)
- 4 Tbsp. light butter
- 6 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 c. skim milk
- 2 c. low fat cheese, shredded, I used a blend of what I had in the house, I would recommend a more flavorful cheese in the future such as Asiago or Aged Cheddar
- 1 c. quinoa
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 8 spears asparagus, washed and thinly sliced

- 4 Tbsp. seasoned panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer until water runs clear.  Add to a pot with the water and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook quinoa for 12 minutes, turn off heat and set aside covered for 5 more minutes.
- Melt butter in a large skillet then whisk in the flour.  Turn heat to medium low.

- Slowly whisk in milk until there are no lumps.
- Stir in cheese then add asparagus then quinoa.  Add s&p to taste.

- Pour mixture into a large (lightly greased) baking dish or into individual ramekins.
- In a small bowl combine Panko (add seasoning if you don't have seasoned ones, pepper, oregano and basil should suffice, I had to do that because I buy my Panko plain) and olive oil, stir to combine.
- Top quinoa mixture with Panko.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.  If the breadcrumbs aren't browning up stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.

I suppose this recipe proves Paula Deen's old philosophy correct "you can make anything taste good with butter and cheese".  Although I retrieved this from a "healthy blog" I'm not sure the use of quinoa and asparagus cancels out the butter, cheese and milk.  I made this when my dad and brother were over for dinner (hence the larger recipe, you can easily halve this to make for two).  Chris and my brother weren't quite sold, Daddy on the other hand really liked it.  But he and my mom have been eating quinoa for awhile so he's a little more used to it than the other critics.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend!  See you in April!


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