cheesy pasta for one

macaroni and cheese

This is going to sound kind of pathetic, but I cooked and ate dinner by myself on my birthday. Sad, I know, but before you feel too sorry for me, take another look at the paella party we had with my family last weekend. I can’t exactly say that I haven’t had a proper birthday party.

For my actual birthday, though, I was on my own. My personal tradition is that this is the one day a year that I can have macaroni and cheese for dinner – gooey, plain, totally without redeeming nutritional value, and without guilt. And since Jon doesn’t really like just macaroni and cheese for dinner, maybe it was just as well that he had to work all evening.

The stumbling block I ran into this time, though, was that I had allowed myself rather a lot of mac and cheese back in January when I had oral surgery, and kind of overdosed on the stuff. So I decided to make this batch slightly different with vegetable pasta, the kind that’s made with beets and spinach and whatever, so there are different colors and tastes. The co-op, inexplicably, didn’t have multicolor macaroni, but they did have shells, so that’s what I went with. And they had their house-packaged raw sharp cheddar, one of my favorite cheeses for this sort of thing.

white sauce
shell pasta

I’ve gone through different methods for making mac and cheese: when I was in college my favorite lunch was whole wheat macaroni, mixed while hot with shredded cheese and crushed garlic. God help my classmates any afternoon after I’d had that. It was very comforting, though. Nowadays I make an actual white sauce with a fresh bay leaf in it, mix shredded cheese in, then add the cooked pasta right to the pan and dig in. Much as I love a crunchy topping, this is not an occasion for it – I like the squishy creaminess of the noodles and cheese sauce, nothing added, no further baking. It gives a lovely feeling of naughtiness, rather like eating a bag of potato chips. Actually, maybe I’ll do that for my birthday next year.

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