In the Pantry Challenge video series, Lauren Braun Costello -- chef, author and food stylist -- shows busy parents how to make meals using ingredients they already have in their pantries, solving their unique cooking challenges. In this episode, Lauren shows Jennifer C., a mother of two and a PR professional, how to jazz up prepared macaroni and cheese.
Lauren's little drums are a spin on the Italian dish timpano, where cooked pasta is baked into a pastry crust. Her version is made in individual ramekins, though, since kids love food in miniature form. All three of the little drums contain the same filling: prepared boxed macaroni and cheese mixed with vegetables. Lauren uses frozen peas and carrots, but you can use anything you would like, from broccoli to chopped tomatoes.
Once the filling is mixed together, she lines the ramekins to form the outside of the "drum." For one, she uses thin slices of deli ham, wrapping the slices up and over the filling. For the second, she uses thinly sliced and grilled zucchini. For the last, she opts for pastry dough, rolling it out thinly, then cutting a circle to line the ramekin. Once she's filled it with the mac and cheese mixture, she puts a second circle on top and pinches the two together.
The ham and zucchini drums only need a short warm-up in the oven -- since they're already cooked, all you need to do is warm the mac and cheese. The pastry dough drum will take longer -- about 25 minutes -- until the crust turns golden brown.
This is the kind of dish that benefits from a little creativity, so don't be afraid to play around with different vegetable and herb combinations in the filling.
Get the Recipe for Macaroni and Cheese Drums.