I conjured up this dish -my version of mac & cheese- while discussing diet and ingredients with my fitness trainer Mark DiMuzio. Now I only eat whole grain pasta and avoid butter and sugar except when eating cupcakes so this is my version of healthy mac & cheese. I chose Brie cheese because the flavor is so strong. It wouldn’t take a ridiculous amount of cheese to make the dish creamy, tasty and cheesy. The black pepper gives it a hint of spice. The peas add a pop of color and a nice contrast in texture. Let’s cook.
First, measure out 2 cups of your choice of pasta and set your pot of water to boil before starting your sauce. I like fusilli pasta. Make sure to add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt to the water. Follow instructions on the package and cook it while you are babysitting your cheese sauce.
Next, take the Brie, place in medium size saucepan, add a generous splash of non-fat milk, turn heat to low and stir with a whisk. This is a labor-intensive process. Once you start heating and beating the milk & cheese it requires 20-25 minutes of constant stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once the cheese is all melted and it starts to look like a cheese sauce it is ready. This is when you toss in the pre-cooked peas. By the way, you can always add more cheese or more milk if you feel the need but do it before adding the peas.
Peas are prepared ahead of time. When I cooked this mac & cheese for the first time it was almost ready except I felt it needed something colorful and vegetable-y. When I looked in the fridge I noticed I had peas leftover from dinner the night before already cooked, boiled stovetop. So, I tossed them in. Low and behold it was a happy accident. So this is why my peas are usually cooked ahead of time.Time the pasta so that it can go straight from the boiling pot into the cheesy pan. I like to use a colander spoon to drain and scoop my pasta directly into the sauce. DO NOT RINSE YOUR PASTA. The starch residue that remains on the pasta coupled with the heat helps it to absorb the sauce. Once all of the pasta is in the cheesy pan keep stirring on low heat until the cheese sauce is evenly distributed.
Mac & Cheese? Yes Please!
4 -6 slices of Brie cheese room temperature
1/4 cup non fat milk
1/3 cup sweet peas
2 cups whole grain fusilli pasta