January is a tough month—you’re full of resolutions to eat healthier, work out, and shed some pounds, but the weather is bitterly cold, it gets dark early, and you just want to cozy up on the couch with a bowl of something warm, carb-y, and cheesy.
I opted to start my new year with the latter by making one of my favorite comfort-food dishes. It’s a super-easy version of mac and cheese from the Casserole Crazy cookbook by Emily Farris. Basically, you combine all the ingredients on the stovetop, then transfer to the oven to bake until melted and bubbly. The sliced tomatoes on top add a nice fresh (and pretty) touch, but the real star of the dish, in my opinion, is the corn; it’s a lovely surprise to have these little pops of juicy sweetness cutting through the richness of the four kinds of cheese. Make it tonight, and everyone who eats it will love you forever (seriously—just look at the title of this dish).
Seduction (Mac and Corn 2.0)
Adapted from Casserole Crazy by Emily Farris
1 pound cavatelli or other short pasta (I used cavatappi because it looked so fun)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large white onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1 pound sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/2 pound Gruyere or Gouda, shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 10-ounce box frozen sweet corn
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Parboil the pasta, drain, and set aside.
3. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the onions start to brown, reduce the heat to low, add the milk, and stir. Add the cheddar and the Gruyere or Gouda, continuing to stir. When the cheeses begin to melt, add the pasta, stirring until the apsta is well coated. Add half the Parmesan and stir. Add the corn (still frozen) and continue to stir. Add the mozzarella and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. When thoroughly mixed, transfer to a 2 3/4-quart buttered or greased casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly.
5. Remove from oven and cover with the sliced tomatoes and the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 15 more minutes.
6. Let stand 10 minutes before eating.
Every single person I’ve fed this dish to has raved about it after the first bite. Seriously. Enjoy!
(photo: Sean Cunningham)