Cheese, Please?

Several months ago, I watched Lidia's Italy, on PBS of course, and saw this: 

I knew I just had to make it. One or two problems abounded. No "pipette" pasta, no Italian bread, no fresh sage (my plant is producing sage-looking leaves with no discernable sage flavor or scent) and no affordable Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano to be found. Never fear, there are always moderations to be made in order to come up with some semblance of deliciousness in this household! 

Soaking cheese. How exciting! 

Since my sage plant is defunct, I decided to add a VERY minimal amount of ground sage. Since it could possible become TOO much, I opted for about a pinch....probably less than 1/16 teaspoon. Also a sprinkling of white pepper just for good measure. 

Melty cheese. What is NOT to love? 

See, the Large Elbow noodles are more than sufficient as a replacement for the short, squatty pipette. 

So, here's the deal with the baguette. The store was all out of fresh Italian loaves the other night, all they had left were the bake-at-home baguettes. I knew from experience that these buggers were hard as a rock after baking, so I figured one would be fine for making the fresh breadcrumbs. However, I should have baked it Friday night and let it sit for a few days to completely stale out. It was entirely too soft for grating and for the food processor, so I ended up with these longer shreds, most of which got thrown out, but I ended up with probably 1 1/2 to 2 cups of crumbs. In the future, I will use a very stale Italian loaf and I will probably make 3-4 cups of crumbs because crumbs, baked and butter soaked, are hard to beat. You can never have enough of them, in my humble, crumby opinion!

Buttered the dish, with unsalted butter, before added the mix. Here she is, pre-baked.

She was so productive, she sprouted offspring....really, no, I made the entire box of pasta and all that cheese and do not own a baking dish with which to hold such a massive amount of food. I'm fairly sure, after cooling, that this can be frozen, either whole or in individual servings. This was FAR too much food for two people. More on that in a bit! 

Plated. Then et. 

So, In all honesty, this is NOT something I would ever serve again as a main course. It was just too much blah after about 4 bites. It would be perfect as a side for healthier fare such as grilled chicken or even some sort of fishy dish, but on it's own, it was just too much. It's very heavy, clearly not healthy and should be used only in moderation. To be far, though, I must admit that I totally forgot to add my cheap version of permsan to the bread crumbs, so there was a little bit of clavor lost and I'm almost 100% certain that if you can afford all the expensive cheeses, there would be even more flavor. Yet, still...

So, if you've got a hankering for a hunk of cheese, try it--maybe cut the recipe in half and you'll still have enough left over for freezing or to share with your block. You could also change up the cheeses, go for all white or all yellow, or if you want some spice you could probably toss in some zesty pepper jack. Play around. Live on the edge of the noodle. 

Happy Monday!  

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