Summer Food: “Improv” Mac n’ Cheese with Mustard Greens
Continuing with our summer food from the garden, it is time to use mustard greens. Now the standard for mustard greens may be sauté or salad however Fran and I were determined to find a better way to highlight the greens. So to the web we went!
After several attempts at google search, ( “unique mustard green” and “unusual mustard green”), for recipes we came across a good ole Martha Stewart recipe for Mac n’ Cheese with mustard greens.
Yes! Home-cooked, warm, and gooey food that defines childhood are probably the characteristics of food desires in college students. So here it was, a perfect recipe to show off our greens and fill our bellies.
We picked a bunch of our green mustard greens that would pop against the bubbling backdrop of sharp cheddar and parmesan:
The next steps required some kitchen equipment; the basic pot and stove top. This is where it got interesting. We decided to cook in one of the houses next door to the garden, thinking that it would be much cooler than the basement kitchen we had been using and better equipped. Well turns out only one of those assumptions came true: it was cooler! There was no pot and no stove. So how were we going to blanch the mustard greens for our dish?
The answer: via electric kettle.
We tore the greens into bite size pieces and put them into the largest bowl that we could find. After the water had started boiling in the kettle, we poured it over the greens for a couple of minutes and then shocked them in cool water.
Next step: make a roux with butter and flour. Well, without a pot and stove, we improvised with a bowl and microwave. It seemed to be working okay, I mean not the “nuttiest brown” roux, but a decent attempt. But then, after a few seconds too long in the microwave, we ended up with flour-butter garlic cookies. Mmmmm. Our solution, just add more butter. And add more butter we did (a.k.a. the rest of the stick). The next time we opened the microwave, we had a golden goop to work with.
We added milk and spices to our goop to create somewhat a base for our sauce. Now the recipe calls for making the sauce in a pot on the stove, and letting it cook for fifteen minutes. Well that just wasn’t going to happen.
I turned around and saw the toaster oven. Decision time. We are going to bake this thing. So into the baking dish went the noodles (snatched from the dining hall in a Tupperware container at lunch) and the blanched greens.
Next we started prepping our flavorings. We chopped up some parmesan:
We mixed the parmesan with sharp cheddar into the greens/noodle pile:
To top it off, we poured the milk/butter/garlic/pepper/flour goop over our mound cheeses, greens, and noodles. It was coming together. It finally looked like something that would turn into an edible dish even with our previous obstacles.
So I picked up the baking dish and headed over to the toaster oven. I could feel the warmth emanating from the door of the toaster oven and I yearned for the pockets of erupting cheese. Dinner would soon be here!
In the baking dish slid. Now only to shut the door and wait.
Oh, but wait…the door doesn’t shut. It so happened that our troubles with our mustard green mac n’ cheese had not ended. I looked up to the cupboards; bowls. Individual servings of mac n’ cheese it is. So we divided the mac n’ cheese into bowls and one after another, they would proceed into the heat to become golden.
Fran and I had the first bowl for dinner tonight. Ahhhh, it was wonderful! I scraped that bowl clean, I wasn’t going to miss any small bit of melted, salty cheese!
Our second bowl was given to our friend Nico as a thank you for letting us use his various kitchen appliances. Thank you!