JEFF TIEDEMAN: Oodles of noodlesMac ‘n’ cheese epitomizes versatility, simplicity of pasta.
Have you ever been at wit’s end about what to cook for supper?
Just about anyone who’s lifted a knife, fork or spoon in the kitchen and has to cook for a family every day knows the feeling.
Usually, I’m not at a loss when it comes to our nightly menu. Most of the time, I’ve looked a several recipes by noon, and at least a couple of them have piqued my interest or given me an idea or two.
But there are those occasional days when I get wrapped up in things and don’t give supper much thought until it’s too late. Monday was one of those days.
I knew we had leftovers from the weekend, including some vegetable soup and wild rice and baked pheasant from Therese’s birthday dinner, but none of that sounded appealing.
So, I went with something that works when all else fails — mac ‘n’ cheese. And this wasn’t your standard mac ‘n’ cheese. It was a doctored-up version of a boxed variety that included tuna, onion, celery, peas and potato chips.
Actually, any kind of noodle dish would have done. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with pasta.
That’s one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the new restaurants that are going to be opening here in the near future.
This month, the Drunken Noodle will begin serving in the old Applebee’s in East Grand Forks. And Olive Garden should be up and running on 32nd Avenue South by the end of the month. Sometime later, Noodles and Company will be opening up shop (along with an Erbert and Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop) in the old Grizzly’s building near Columbia Mall.
These establishments will join a couple of other places — Mamma Maria’s in the Riverwalk Centre in East Grand Forks and Giuseppe’s Italian Ristorante on DeMers Avenue — that dish up some pretty delicious pasta entrees and appetizers.
I don’t think anybody knows for sure when America’s love affair with noodles really began. But whether it’s in the form of Italian pasta or Southeast Asian noodles, fresh or dried, hot or cold, tubular or string, it seems we can’t get enough of them.
The nice thing about pasta is that it is so versatile. Not only does it go well with meat and seafood, it combines with vegetables just as nicely. For example, two recipes I love are pasta fagioli (macaroni and white beans in a tomato sauce) and broccoli with rigatoni.
One of the more interesting combos I’ve heard of is a dish that Bev Ryan of Grand Forks told me about.
While visiting family in California recently, she had a noodle entree for lunch — mac ‘n’ cheese with Brussels sprouts, blue cheese and applewood-smoked bacon — at Magpie Cafe in Sacramento. Bev said she’d never eaten Brussels sprouts before and that they paired nicely with pasta.
That doesn’t surprise me. After all, how can you screw up mac ‘n’ cheese?
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.