Life gets hectic, especially on weeknights. Monday-Friday, I have all these intentions to prepare my husband a great home-cooked meal, but after 10-12 hours at work, I lose my sizzle and often grab a frozen pizza or other not-so-good-for-you foods.
On weekends, on the other hand, I can happily spend the entire day in the kitchen. This is when I bake, cook and blog. An easy solution for those unhealthy weeknights is to prepare dinner on the weekend, freeze it and reheat it on a weeknight.
There’s nothing new about this concept, but with today’s post, I wanted to show you how easy this can really be with this back-to-basics recipe.
Mornay sauce is a French Béchamel sauce with cheese. Usually it’s made with Gruyère and Parmesan, but I’ve Americanized it and use all sorts of cheeses like pepperjack, swiss, cheddar…you get the idea.
If you master this Mornay Sauce, you can make mac-n-cheese or a hearty, meaty pasta bake on Saturday and serve it to your family any day of the week. And if you’re single or cooking for two, the dish can be divided into smaller pans so you have easy single or double portion home-cooked meals straight from the freezer.
Next time you walk through the frozen food aisle, take a look at all of the frozen pasta dishes. Which flavors stand out to you? Write down the main ingredients listed on the box, choose the cheese to use in your Mornay sauce and bake your own healthier version with local meats, organic veggies, whole wheat pasta and a lot less sodium.
Throughout the week, I’ll share five different Weeknight Pasta Bakes with you all of which are made with a Mornay Sauce. Once you combine the ingredients, all you have to do is spoon them in your pan/dish of choice. Choose a large aluminum pan, if you plan to bake it straight from the freezer. Place it in individual bowls or plastic containers for quick microwave meals.
Monday ~ Green Chile Chicken Penne
Tuesday ~ Chicken Cordon Bleu Pipe Rigate
Wednesday ~ Tuna Tetrazzini
Thursday ~ Chicken Spinach and Mushroom Linguine
Friday ~ Supreme Pizza Pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 8 ozs. (2 cups) cheese
- salt, pepper and other spices
Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat.
Add the flour and whisk, until it thickens into a roux.
Add the milk and continue to whisk, until the sauce thickens about 10 minutes.
Add the cheese and stir with a wooden spoon, until melted.
Season to taste. Choose spices that complement your final dish.
Mix the sauce with cooked pasta, cooked meat and sautéed vegetables. Scoop into pans or dishes. Sprinkle the top with panko breadcrumbs and bake or microwave until heated through.