IHCC, which simply means you can make any recipe that you choose from Mark Bittman's ridiculously lengthy list of offerings. I ended up skipping all of Nigella's Potluck weeks since I could never make up my mind, but I am trying to be better now. It's still overwhelming to pick one thing when I've already bookmarked over a dozen recipes in the two books I have, plus the 10 more I bookmarked online. In order to quit waffling, I went back to the pantry. I have far too many boxes of pasta, since E won't eat it (I know! How the hell did I marry someone who doesn't really like pasta?) and I keep buying it anyway. I also had too much cheese in the fridge (if that's possible) and a bunch of prosciutto that I bought with a plan in mind and then forgot about. I do that more often than I'd like. I ended up with another recipe from the Basics book, and added a few ingredients to make it more grown up (although honestly, E would have been just as happy if I had mixed in ketchup and hot dog slices). It was the bomb. For reals. I could have eaten it straight from the pot without the baking step and been happy as a clam.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Prosciutto and Peas
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything: The Basics
2 1/2 cups low fat milk
2 bay leaves
1 pound whole wheat ziti
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 slices Prosciutto, sliced into strips
1 cup peas
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup or more bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Boil ziti until just under al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water, set side.
Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand.
In the empty pasta pot over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar and stir.
Add pasta to the sauce, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper (be wary of the salt here, since prosciutto is already very salty. You'll want to taste it before adding too much!). Add prosciutto and peas and toss to coat. Grease a 9 x 13-inch or similar-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes. Serve piping hot.*
* Mark's words, not mine. I don't think I've ever said "piping hot" with a straight face.