Easy Stovetop Macaroni, Peas, Bacon, and Cheese a la Jamie Oliver (College Edition)

First things first: no pictures because this was exactly as this blog is called; delicious, not gorgeous. And perhaps because I was too hungry to attempt any pictures.

I adapted this macaroni and cheese recipe to fit my cheapness and what I had. I didn’t have oil or butter, nor did I think it necessary, what with all the fat bacon has. I grabbed milk from the dining hall instead of using cream. It was only until after I had filled my water bottle that I realized we weren’t allowed to take out milk; whoops. At least the bottle was blue, so it was easier to smuggle out. I brought some dried herbes de provence from home, so I used that instead of fresh basil. And if you’re wondering why I even have herbes de provence, it’s for quinoa salad (since I also brought quinoa and a rice cooker). I grabbed lemon wedges from In-n-Out that I stored briefly in my ice water cup. Ingenuity, people.

I used elbow pasta. I couldn’t find shells at Trader Joe’s, no matter how much I looked. I cooked the pasta first, then transferred it to my rice cooker insert (the only container I have big enough to hold that much pasta) so that I could make the sauce in the pot I cooked the pasta in.

I used pre-cooked bacon that I crisped up a bit in the pan, then crumbled. The peas I used were from the chicken salad (basically potato salad plus lettuce and shredded cooked chicken) that my hallmate made last week. I cut down on the amount of herbs I used, since dried herbs are more potent than fresh. I was tempted to use the Parm I saw at the dining commons, but ultimately bought some from Trader Joe’s. The cheese dominates the flavor of this dish, so I was afraid that the lackluster dining cheese wouldn’t cut it.

The Parmesan melted too much and create a blobby cheese mess instead of a silky sauce. But no matter- the dish was still delectable. I didn’t end up using the lemon juice, since I didn’t feel like the pasta needed it. The pasta was perfectly al dente, the bacon adding a hit of smoke and the cheese making the pasta plenty flavorful. The peas were a little scary, but definitely added a nice sweetness. The herbs made the pasta seem more grown-up and sophisticated, as if I wasn’t actually eating macaroni and cheese on top of my bed while trying to start an essay.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni, Peas, Bacon, and Cheese a la Jamie Oliver (College Edition)
adapted from Melissa Clark

8 oz elbow or tiny shells pasta, cooked and well drained
2 strips bacon
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
3 T milk or cream or creme fraiche or yogurt, room temperature
2 tsp dried herbs or 2 T fresh herbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Crumble.
  2. Stir in the peas and cook until defrosted. Add the dairy and herbs. Cook, stirring constantly until bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the pasta and cheese. Stir until the pasta is well coated and creamy. Serve with additional cheese.

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