Meatless Fridays at

Today's Meatless Friday guest chef has written a book that's one part memoir, one part cookbook, one part prayer book, and four parts poetry. slowing timeSlowing Time:  Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door is about more than just food:  author Barbara Mahany digs into the many ways we can nourish our spirits without venturing farther than our own backyards. Here she shares a meatless recipe that became a family favorite.

Comfort in a Casserole: Time-Tested, Not-from-a-Box, Macaroni and Cheese

You know it’s good (or you know you’re stuck in a rut) when the pages of a 1995 Gourmet magazine fall open to the sticky, splattered, crinkled page, and there lies the mac-and-cheese you first made for your firstborn’s second birthday. That was the train birthday, as opposed to the other train birthday, the hot-air-balloon birthday, the nature hunt birthday, the Saturn-cake birthday, and, all in all, the two decades of birthdays that have fallen ever since. He’s 21 now, and his little brother, a mere 13, must have inherited the mac-’n’-cheese gene: He, too, begs for it whenever comfort is called for. This bubbling ooze of deliciousness is the very definition of Comfort in a Casserole. It is, simply, scrumptious. You’ll beg for Comfort, come any Friday.

Macaroni and Cheese

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 ½ Tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. paprika
3 C. milk
1 tsp. salt
¾ pound wagon-wheel pasta (rotelle)
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded coarse (about 2 ¾ C.)
1 C. coarse fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375-degrees Fahrenheit and butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish (the broader the crust, the better).

In a 6-quart kettle bring 5 quarts salted water to a boil for cooking pasta.

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over moderately low heat and stir in flour and paprika.

Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes, and whisk in milk and salt. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Stir pasta into kettle of boiling water and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente.

Drain pasta in a colander and in a large bowl stir together pasta, sauce and 2 cups Cheddar cheese.

Transfer mixture to prepared dish. Macaroni and cheese may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered tightly (an indispensable trick, when you know your end-of-week to-do list won’t be forgiving).

In a small bowl, toss remaining ¾ cup Cheddar with bread crumbs and sprinkle over pasta mixture.

Bake in center of oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 children. Or four very hungry ones.

— from Barbara Mahany, author Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door (Abingdon Press, October 2104). Learn more about Barbara's book and visit her blog, Pull Up a Chair.

Copyright 2014 Barbara Mahany