Another one for my veggie niece. I was browsing for convenience food in the supermarket the other evening when I was too tired to cook and I spotted a ready made Macaroni Cheese Bake thing, a posh version with three cheeses no less. It was quite expensive for what it was and I always baulk at pre-cooked pasta so I left it there and grabbed something else, but I took the idea away and made my own version. A version which would feed 4 for the price of the meagre single serving I saw.
Some people are quite singular about Mac and Cheese. A close friend is only happy with a certain commercial brand and hoards enough of it to see them through a minor war. Being borderline OCD, I had to google the ingredients of the aforementioned product; Macaroni, Whey Powder (from Milk), Cheese Powder, Salt, Emulsifying Salts (E341, E339), Flavour Enhancer (E508), Colours (Paprika Extract, Beta-Carotenes). Sounds delicious huh! It’s actually very easy to make a simple homemade mac and cheese, just cover some dried pasta with milk and simmer until the pasta softens, then add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese of your choice and season with salt and pepper and whatever else you like. It wouldn’t have that E-number edge though!
That’s not what I’m making here though. I’m making quasi-posh triple cheese pasta bake with no E-numbers.
This serves 2 or 3 or just add more stuff to feed more people.
Mac and Triple Cheese
- 1 large onion
- A clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp flour
- 400 ml milk
- 150 g or so of sliced mushrooms
- A ball of mozzarella chopped up or equivalent of ready grated
- 50 g Cheddar Cheese grated
- 20 g Parmesan or Pecorino grated
- Half a teaspoon of mustard
- Some frozen spinach use fresh if you must
- A good pinch of dried chilli flakes
- 200 g macaroni or other tubular pasta
- Salt and Pepper
- A handful of breadcrumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a shallow ovenproof dish with a little oil or butter.
Finely chop the onion and garlic and gently fry in the oil until softened. Add the flour and stir to cook it just a little. Add a good glug of milk and whisk to remove any lumps that may develop, keep adding the milk and stirring until it is all gone. You are basically making a very thin white sauce but with onions and garlic in there already. Add the sliced mushrooms and a handful of spinach. Add whatever you like really, more veg is fine, maybe some fried bacon lardons if you feel the need for a meaty addition.
Season with salt and pepper and add the mustard and chilli flakes. Now turn the heat up a little and add the mozarella and half the cheddar. Give it all a good stir while the cheese melts, then take off the heat. It should still be quite runny but that’s what you want as you have yet to add the pasta.
Stir in the pasta and pour the lot into your oven dish. Spread it out evenly and top it off with the remaining cheddar and the parmesan and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs for a little crunch. Bake for around 45 minutes until it looks golden brown and irresistible. Real comfort food, without the E-numbers.
There is plenty of room for improvisation with this recipe, you don’t need three cheeses, any cheese or any veg will do, you can add meat, change the seasonings, top it off with chopped nuts, whatever you like. I’m not precious about these things!
Do you deliver?
I’m sure we can come to an arrangement.