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That creamy sauce.

Every home-ec student of yore learned how to make white sauce. Chefs learn how to make bechamel sauce. The rest of us typically run to the store and buy a .99 can of Cream of Blech soup, the low fat version. But good heavens! Have you read what’s in the can? I’ve been delivered from Cream of Blech soup. Please let me deliver you from being a slave to the fake soup aisle.

White Sauce/Bechamel Sauce:
While your 12 ounces of pasta is bubbling on the stove, get out a saucepan.
Heat 3 tablespoons of real butter and while you are watching your butter glisten, heat up 2 cups of milk. Any kind of milk will do. If you need Timmy to milk the cow, you might want to start that before you start the pasta.
Your butter is melty–now stir in 3 tablespoons of flour and just stir long enough to thicken. You won’t be browning this flour. Pour in your hot milk and whisk. Cook until your sauce thickens.  I’ve found that using hot milk keeps the sauce from tasting gritty or lumpy. Add salt and pepper to taste. I love to add fresh herbs as well and just as it is finishing, a clove of freshly minced garlic. I’ve also added cheeses at this stage.
Drain pasta, pour back into the pot or into a big bowl. Pour your thickened sauce over the top and stir.

The bottom line:

Here is what you spend, here is what you save:
Cream of X Soup:  Open and go anywhere from .99 to $1.50. For that price you get the ready made convenience of dumping the contents directly into the pasta pot. You still have the  expense of adding in milk and cheese. You also take into your body all of the unpronounceable ingredients from the BPA lined can. Don’t forget the teensy hassle of rinsing out the can and putting it in the recycle bucket or the guilt of knowing that you just made the landfills one can taller.

White sauce: +1 on the hassle factor. Yes, you have to wash an additional pan. But here is what you get in return: 1) Most likely, you have butter, flour and milk on hand, so you are just minutes away from a smooth creamy white sauce. No need to run to the store to buy Cream of Mushroom soup and American cheese slices. 2) You know what you are eating. 3) Three tablespoons of butter is $ .38, three tablespoons of flour is $ .08 and 2 cups of milk will run you about $ .50. Have your second grader do the math on that one.  4) You can sing, “I’ve Got The Power,” as you whip up a pasta dish from scratch.

My kids beg for this pasta.  They love it. 

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