Craving comfort food doesn’t mean having to do a load of dishes.
Despite my having cultivated a large range of culinary skills, when it comes to our daily meals, I tend to make the kind of food my mom cooked for us when we were growing up. We eat a lot of roast chicken and vegetable-and-herb soups with a homemade bone broth. My mother’s meals were typically made from scratch, but sometimes, we had boxed macaroni and cheese mixed with frozen peas. To this day, it’s not the homemade soups I want when I’m under the weather or otherwise feeling anxious. Nope, I crave boxed pasta.
Fortunately, a stove-top creamy pasta is easy to make and calls for items I usually have on hand: butter, milk and dried pasta. A little melting cheese — such as cheddar, Swiss or Gouda — adds saltiness and extra creaminess, while the peas add color and a frequent pop of sweetness. Bonus: This pasta dish comes together in just one pot. I may love cooking and eating, but cleaning up? Well, let’s just say it doesn’t fall too high on my priorities list.
Creamy pasta and sweet peas
The ultimate comfort food — pasta — with a cheesy béchamel and sweet peas. Make it on sick days, rainy days or every day!
- 3/4 pound (12 ounces) dry pasta, in any shape you like
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3-1/2 cups whole milk
- 3 cups grated cheese (any melting cheese — such as cheddar, Swiss or Gouda — though I’m partial to Gruyère)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) frozen peas
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta as directed on the packaging, then drain it and set it aside.
- Return the drained pot to the stove and reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter, and once it is melted, stir in the flour. Cook for two minutes (you want to cook the flour but do not want the mixture to brown), then slowly stir in the milk. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the cheese until melted. Add the drained pasta, frozen peas and black pepper to the pasta and turn off the heat. Stir to combine and wait two minutes for the heat from the pasta to thaw the peas. Serve warm.