There was a (long) period in my life where I was basically keeping Lipton in business. And I’m not just talking about my iced tea addiction (which I still have, thankyouverymuch) but those flavored “pasta sides” packets. Except in my world they weren’t really sides so much as a meal and, man, did I love them. Sure, one package allowed me to reach my sodium limit for a month, but I’m sure that’s what made them so tasty.
Those types of things got kicked to the curb when I started doing more from-scratch cooking and more clean eating. I haven’t had them in a number of years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have cravings for something similar from time to time. This is, of course, why things like creamy taco mac and skillet ground beef stroganoff are very popular dishes in our house.
This dish is simple. You cook the pasta and then you saute a couple of garlic cloves in a little butter and oil, and make a roux which thickens the sauce. Then, everything is combined, along with some cheese. Garlic powder is added, too, and though I normally don’t use it for anything other than rubs, it works well here because it makes the garlic flavor more robust—something I remember from the packets. It’s all on the table quickly and makes for a great side to pretty much anything. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I see no reason why you couldn’t make this all in one pot, a la the revolutionary mac and cheese, increasing the liquid by a bit, so I’ll probably try that next time.
Creamy Garlic Shells
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
8 oz. dry small pasta shells (whole wheat is fine)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cup strong chicken or vegetable broth*, warm or at room temperature
1 cup milk at room temperature
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried parsley
Cook the shells in a pot of boiling, salted water, until just al dente; drain.
Return the empty pot to the stove, and melt the butter into the oil. Add the minced garlic and saute just until golden, 30-45 seconds. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly for about 1 minute to cook it off. Slowly add in the chicken broth and milk, continuing to stir. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic powder, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste until combined.
Off the heat, stir in the cooked pasta and Parmesan. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
*If you want a more robust chicken flavor (closer to the packets) you can add a little bouillon/Better Than Bouillon.
Creamy Garlic Shells