Growing up, macaroni and cheese was a Lenten staple at our table. Always served with canned, stewed tomatoes (as fresh tomatoes are not in season) they were spiked up by my mom with extra diced garlic, onions and green peppers. The Mac ‘n Cheese and side of tomatoes was a meal we children all ate with gusto.
Both of my brothers expressed displeasure at some of the other wonderful dishes mom made during Lent. Pete’s “ugh” when one of her terrific meatless eggplant casserole meals was legendary, and Mark never did overcome his abiding dislike of fish in any form. “Horrid fish dishes,” was his frequently heard pronouncement.
But serve them pasta in any form, except the Sicilian concoction with anchovies that my father loved so much, and they wolfed it down.
I have no doubt the recipe below – adapted from several sites on the Internet – would have pleased their palates. I like to use sharp white cheddar, but use whatever cheddar appeals to your taste. Also, while I don’t use Italian style bread crumbs, mom always did and everybody loved the dish.
This is another dish that I think would meet with Pope Francis’ Lenten admonition to keep the fare simple. It’s inexpensive to pull together, tasty and warm and (I think) makes a great lunch leftover.
Auntie Lo’s Mac & Cheese
– ¼ cup butter
-2 tablespoons white flour
-2 cups whole mile or 2% low-fat milk if preferred
-10 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
-1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
-1 lb elbow macaroni noodles
-3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cook macaroni pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, add butter and cook until melted.
4. Remove saucepan from heat and add flour. Whisk constantly for 1 minute.
5. Return saucepan to medium heat and add milk and stir to combine.
6. Heat mixture until milk is hot but not boiling.
7. Grate white cheddar cheese and add to milk mixture.
8. Cook for 10 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
9. Add Romano cheese and stir to combine. Cook until all cheese is melted, about 2 more minutes.
10. Add macaroni noodles to saucepan and stir to combine pasta with cheese sauce.
11. Pour into a casserole dish or a ceramic, oven-safe crock.
12. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of macaroni.
13. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Let sit for 3-5 minutes after cooking to cool.
I’m including a link from Creighton University’s wonderful Lenten sight – a staple in my home each year. This page http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/familyprayer.html offers a banquet of prayer for the table.
Here’s a sample:
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Lord, we thank you for the blessings of this day and for this time together as a family.
We thank you for this wonderful meals and for this hour we can share it.
Help us remember those who have so much less than we do.
Bless us as a family. Help us grow in love and care for each other.
Comfort and give strength and peace to those who are sick or struggling in any way.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen