My cooking strategy for the past few years has focussed on the 3 R’s – Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose. I try my best not to waste food that I’ve bought though fresh leafy herbs and vegetables are still my great failing.
A basic cheese sauce is the start of many a great meal, snack or veggie side dish. Start with a bechamel sauce. After that, you have a world of possibilities.
This cheese sauce started with 1 1/2 cups of pepper jack, 1 cup of old cheddar, a couple of slices of American cheese and a few tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese.
I took one of these containers and turned it into a main dish for 3 people.
Basic Cheese Sauce – makes 2-2 1/4 cups of cheese sauce
2 tbsp butter, salted or unsalted
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 – 2 cups milk
3 cups or more grated cheese
salt, if needed
ground black pepper or a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and as it starts to bubble a bit, stir in the flour until it’s all been blended into the butter. Whisk in the milk, about a half a cup at a time. Keep stirring and bring to a boil.
When the sauce has thickened sufficiently, in a few minutes, take the saucepan off the heat and stir in grated cheese a handful at a time. When all the cheese has melted, taste for seasoning. You may have to add a bit of salt but generally that’s not the case. Some ground black pepper and or nutmeg may also be added.
Cheese Sauce Variations:
Mexican cheese sauce (Monterey or pepper jack, white or yellow Cheddar cheeses and some salsa) – nacho dip or Nacho grande
Italian cheese sauce (Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Provolone) – meat or veggie lasagna, over pasta
Swiss cheese sauce (Gruyere) – veggie dip ie cauliflower or broccoli, Philly cheese steak
One-Dish Ham and Pea Mac and Cheese Bake Pictorial Recipe
I used one of these containers (half of the cheese sauce made previously), 1 cup of thawed peas, 4 oz (~1 cup) diced cooked ham and another tbsp or so of Parmesan cheese over the top before it was put under the broiler for a couple of minutes. I cooked 1/2 a pound (200 gm) of elbow macaroni and the result was enough for 3 servings.
Combine and pour into a buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top and place under the broiler until browned and bubbly.
Add a salad, and a soup, and a cookie or two and you’re all set