Like so many moms, boxed macaroni and cheese was a staple at my house when the kids were young. It was cheap, easy, and they loved it. However, I never felt good about serving them something that was freeze-dried in a pouch and had an unnatural color. There is nothing in nature that is macaroni and cheese orange. But with work and all the activities that came with having children, I relented to that little blue box more times than I’d like to admit.
However, after hearing the stories of what my kids did when they were young now that they are grown up, let’s just say I had more to worry about than feeding them fake powdered cheese.
Now that they are adults, their tastes have changed — thank goodness. They enjoy things that they turned their noses up at as children, and that is why I love this adult version of macaroni and cheese. It is made with real cheese and lots of healthy and delicious ingredients. And there is a hint of tanginess that makes it really stand apart. And yet, it is still comfort food and that makes it even better.
Belle’s Macaroni and Mozzarella
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups macaroni noodles (8 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Cook the macaroni for about 7 minutes or until tender, but not too soft. Drain the macaroni and place in a large bowl. Add the basil and parsley and half of the dressing. Stir to combine. Let it sit for 1 minute to cool slightly, then add the mozzarella and the remaining dressing. Serve warm.
Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of three. She is a cookbook author and novelist. Her website is at talesofthedinnerbelle.com.