Monday, 25 February 2013

Macaroni & Cauliflower Cheese


I tried Jamie's 30 Minute Meals Cauliflower Macaroni before Christmas but it didn't go down well with the kids - too crispy, large bits of identifiable cauliflower stalk etc  So I've gone back to making my standard toddler macaroni cheese I made for years for the children, but now add 'normal' sized pasta to make it a little grown-up, and a little ham or bacon if I have any.

Serves 5

400g pasta shapes, spirals work well
1 head cauliflower
1 medium onion
1 mug frozen sweetcorn
2 pint whole milk
4 heaped tbsp plain flour
2tsp English mustard
100g strong cheddar, grated
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
Handful of breadcrumbs (optional)
Handful of grated cheddar (optional)
Leftover ham or bacon (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the packet's instructions in the largest pan you have. If you have a steamer, steam the cauliflower, broken roughly into florets, and the frozen sweetcorn over the top of the pasta. If you don't have a steamer just cook the vegetables in a separate pan for as long as the pasta.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss in a little olive oil.  Drain the vegetables and puree with some extra milk.  Alternatively just mash the cauliflower with a potato masher if you think your children can cope with this, and leave the sweetcorn whole.

Gently soften the onion in the olive oil in a non-stick saucepan. When soft add the cold milk and then the flour and whisk immediately (with a plastic whisk if using a non-stick pan) to break up the lumps of flour. This is really quick. Then keep stirring with a wooden spoon, making sure you scrape the base and corners of the pan.  When the sauce starts to thicken, add the mustard, vegetable puree/mash, and cheese.  Keep stirring until the sauce starts to bubble then turn the heat off.

Mix the sauce into the cooked pasta.  If you have any leftover ham or bacon you could add this now. Serve, or sprinkle with breadcrumbs and the handful of cheese and place in the centre of the oven pre-heated to 200C until golden and crispy.

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