easy stovetop macaroni with peas and cheese

I grew up on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Damn, that stuff was good (still is)! But the time came when that orangey, cheese-like powder was just not cutting it for me anymore. Slowly but surely, I started coming to terms with the fact that macaroni and cheese should, in fact, be macaroni and cheese. As in real, gooey, non-neon cheese. Don’t you agree?

Easy Stovetop Macaroni with Peas and Cheese
adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
serves 2-3

8 ounces elbow or shells pasta
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of frozen peas
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1/2 to 1 cup (or more) of Parmesan, Gruyere and cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions.
In a large skillet over low to medium heat, melt the butter with the oil for a few minutes.
Stir in peas and cook for a minute. Add heavy cream and pepper. Stir and let cook for about 2-5 minutes.
Drain pasta (reserve a bit of pasta water) and add to skillet with peas. Drizzle with lemon juice.
Stir in the cheese until pasta is completely covered. Add a touch of pasta water, if necessary.
Serve and top with more Parmesan, if desired.

Gruyere, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses are the dream team. The slight sweetness and softness of the Gruyere with the sharpness of the cheddar and Parmesan made me a little weak in the knees. And I’m not stopping here because mac and cheese is one of the fun, versatile recipes that can be made any which way. It can be baked, crusted with bread crumbs or cooked with garlic or chili peppers. And of course, it requires extra cheese (more than what the recipe calls for). Of course.

-jillian m.

p.s. I still give in to boxed mac and cheese from time to time. Only I’ve moved on from Kraft to Annie’s. Tastes just as good, only better for you.

23 responses to “easy stovetop macaroni with peas and cheese”

  1. Jane says:

    I love mac & cheese, totally bookmarking this to try (without the peas. I won't stand for greens in my comfort food! haha).

  2. jillian m. says:

    Ha! I hear you on that one! However, next time I think I would add bacon. I think that's a pretty good addition (and also what the original recipe calls for). How yum would that be?

  3. colleen says:

    this is an old school italian recipe – of course they know how to make things the non-processed way – except in the one i have they also add diced pancetta. love your pictures!

  4. sherri lynn says:

    yes mac & cheese is my ultimate comfort food! If I ever get around to having my mac & cheese party that I've always dreamed of, I will send you an invite :)

  5. Ana Degenaar says:

    Oh Jillian, I missed your blog SO much!

  6. yours truly, melissa says:

    Mmmm! Who doesn't love a cheesy bowl of macaroni?!?
    I've got a serious craving now!

  7. la petite coquine says:

    YUM-now I know what I'll be craving for lunch!

  8. PhotoPuddle says:

    Oh yum, that looks goooood. I love macaroni cheese.

  9. Ashley says:

    ohhhhhh yes. I love real mac and cheese, and even preferred the real stuff as a kid!

  10. Erin Lian says:

    This looks so delicious! And much more restaurant like than the one I knock up! I still eat tinned mac and cheese sometimes 😛 <3

  11. M@coffeeandkitsch says:

    ooo i should make this for lunch this week!

  12. Wander.Lust says:

    Oooh this recipe sounds so good and easy…. peas are such an underrated veggie but i totally love them!

  13. Isabel @ Pretty Tasty Things says:

    OMG. This looks so amazing. I love pasta and cheese, especially gruyere, so you can't go wrong there. I've never had peas in my mac n' cheese…something to definitely try. Thanks for sharing!

  14. chestnutmocha says:

    peas are my favourite!

  15. jillian m. says:

    Monica – Hi Monica!

    Aside from Brooklyn and Queens being two different boroughs, it's hard to say what makes them so different, partly because they are so different within themselves! Haha. There are neighborhoods in Brooklyn for example, that are really young, artsy and hipster-ish (like Wiliamsburg). But if you just take the train about 30-40 minutes to Bensonhurst, you will find a heavily populated Italian area (my old stomping grounds), chock full of pizzerias and family-owned Italian restaurants (although it's been slowly changing since I've moved). As far as Queens goes, I'm not terribly familiar with a lot of neighborhoods, but Astoria was and still is occupied by many Greek and Middle-Eastern people. Some parts of it are becoming (or are already) very trendy, hence the rising prices in rent (not good news for me!). But places like Maspeth (where my bf currently lives) have a large Eastern European and Latino community. It isn't very trendy at all, considering it's thisclose to Williamsburg, but it's a quiet neighborhood with a lot of convenient spots like laundromats, Chinese restaurants and cab companies (not very good for clothes shopping, though).

    Oh and Queens has a TON of cemeteries.

    Generally, the areas in BK and Queens that are closer to the city tend to be trendier, more populated and more expensive, while the areas farther out are less expensive and more suburban. Again, this is a very general statement.

    I hope this clears it up a bit!

  16. jillian m. says:

    Ana – Welcome back! I've missed you around here!

  17. Little Petite says:

    Yum this looks really good! Thanks for sharing =D I will definitely try it!

  18. Alena: Oh, It's Just Perfect! says:

    My mouth is watering. Mac & Cheese is the ultimate comfort food!! Plus, the addition of peas would make me feel better about eating it :)

  19. Aquí says:

    thats it! I'm having mac and cheese for lunch! Rarely do I have parm and cream in the fridge at the same time, its a sign :)

  20. Bonnie says:

    I love the way you took something like mac and cheese and made it totally awesome. I never would have thought of this!

    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  21. Gabrielle - I LIKE IT FAST says:

    This looks delish, I completely understand too… I used to live off the Kraft stuff, I though it was the bees knees back in the day!

  22. Meghan @ Wishful Thinking says:

    I am very intruiged by this Kraft Mac and Cheese, I have heard about it but we don't get it here! Is it radioactive orange? I really love this recipe Jillian, I would have never thought of putting peas in Mac and Cheese but I can really see it working! I'll let you know what I think when I try it!

  23. Jamillah says:

    Oh I totally love adding lemon juice to cut the heaviness of certain dishes! I do this when I make mac and cheese too! BUT! I have never thought of peas! Yum! Love that!

    Thanks friend! Saving this recipe :).

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