If you opted out of going to your Mormon or Midwestern home for The Holidays, you may be craving some beige comfort food right about now. I am here to help.
How To Make The Casserole of Delicious Shame
1 can of Cream of Sodium, Preservatives and Petroleum By-Products soup. Brand immaterial. Although you know your mom went with Campbells. Make sure it’s Campbells.
1 package of non-elongated pasta, such as shells, macaroni or rotini. I did the tri-color rotini, because the green and red ones count as vegetables.
Cheese. More than one kind, good and melty. This is what Velveeta was born for, but now that you’re a grown-up with more adult tastes, go for the smoked gouda, the sophisticate’s process cheese-food product. Also, anything else you have in the fridge that will melt. I went with gouda, shredded “mexican blend” and grated pecorino-romano.
*Optional – Leftover meat. Lunch meat. A can of potted meat. Basically, some protein. I had a bunch of chicken breast I made for quesadillas left over. It was pretty much coated in taco seasoning. Zesty!
* Also Optional – chives, green onions, chopped up bell peppers, sliced olives. Do not get fancy. would your mom use kalamatas? I don’t think so.
Make the noodles. Probably the whole package. Follow the directions, then drain and rinse them.
Look, you’re probably not going to use the whole thing of noodles. This recipe originally involved a ratio of 1 box of noodles to 1 can of soup. Unfortunately, packaging sizes have not shrunk consistently over the decades, so now you’re going to have to throw a few noodles out. Why didn’t I tell you to boil fewer noodles in the first place? BECAUSE WHAT IF YOU NEED MORE NOODLES. YOU DON’T KNOW. You are probably at a point in your life where you can afford to throw out like 2 oz of noodles, but if you’re not, by all means put them in a tupperware and save them for some other noodle-related application.
Noodles. Yes. Start with about half of the drained noodles. Toss them in a mixing bowl and dump the contents of your Cream Of Atherosclerosis Soup in there. Mix it up good and throw in any optional add-ins. Add more noodles until it’s not too goopy to serve on a plate.
Mix in your cheeses. Don’t be shy. Who doesn’t like cheese? Only my co-worker David and the lactose intolerant, and they don’t need to partake in your bounty.
*NOTE: if you are a college student, you can save yourself a dirty mixing bowl and combine the ingredients back in the now-empty pasta pot on top of a low burner, melting it all together pretty quickly. If you are not, do yourself a favor and dirty up two extra dishes – the aforementioned mixing bowl and now a casserole dish of about 2.5 qt size – sprinkle some more cheese on top and stick it in a 350 degree oven for at least a half hour. Or until the cheese is melty. You may want to put a lid/some foil on top to keep everything from congealing.
Serve hot, on a plate with actual silverware and napkins that are not also paper towels. Think about the roasted artichokes, braised short-ribs, spinach salad, homemade hummus, salmon en papillote, chicken piccata and dilled green beans on this month’s menu, while giving thanks for the women who worked outside the home to afford to keep their families full of comforting, satisfying, cheese-laden beige foods.