Macaroni cheese with broccoli

December 12, 2009 § 4 Comments

I apologise for the infrequent posting, it’s been a busy few weeks with interviews and driving lessons, so I haven’t been able to spend much time in the kitchen! I only have a tidbit for now, but I promise there will be some exciting pandan-inspired recipes and cakey goodness coming up to grace your screens.

Mac and cheese is an alltime favourite comfort food – beautifully simple, yet filling and satisfying. You can’t go wrong with mac and cheese, however you can add more food groups to it to make it a tad healthier than the usual cheese and carbs fare. Broccoli is one of those vegetables which is a hidden gem – you spend your childhood hating it because you’re forced to eat it and then suddenly you discover it when you’re in your teens (or as a young adult) and it opens up a wholly new culinary world to you.

Okay, perhaps I’m glamourising broccoli too much, but it’s definitely a versatile ingredient. You can pair it with creamy sauces, or throw it into a stir-fry or just steam it and melt some butter over it, and it will always accompany a dish wonderfully. Not only that, it’s rich in Vitamin C and A as well as containing a high amount of dietary fibre. Apparently it’s useful for prevention of heart disease too… although I think the amount of cheese you use for this dish may possibly cancel that out…

So lets get right to it. You’ll need:

  • 450-500g dried macaroni
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 150g cheddar cheese (I used mature cheddar cheese but if you don’t want a very strong cheese taste feel free to use milder cheeses)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • about 200ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • A pinch of crushed chilli flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 100g breadcrumbs

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Bring a large pan of water to boil, add salt and a drizzle of olive oil, then add the macaroni and leave to boil for 12-15 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally to loosen pieces sticking to the bottom of the pan. Drain well once cooked through. In a separate pan, boil the broccoli florets in salted water, or use a steamer like I did, putting it in the microwave for around 5 minutes until just tender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan and add the onion and garlic when bubbling. Fry gently for 3-4 minutes, then add the flour and stir vigorously for 1 minute until you form a paste. Reduce to a medium heat, then pour in the milk gradually, stirring gently to combine the paste with the milk to form a smooth sauce. You’ll need to stir the sauce for about 10 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.

Once the béchamel sauce has just about begun to thicken, add the mustard, nutmeg, chilli flakes and tarragon and combine. Sprinkle in about 50g of the cheese and stir until melted – you can add a little more cheese if you want a stronger taste but keep  in mind that extra cheese will thicken your sauce more. Add the steamed/boiled and drained broccoli, mix well and season to taste.

Add your drained macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix well to ensure the pasta is thoroughly coated. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top. Now sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top so that you can form a golden crust on top of the macaroni. Season with black pepper, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top os golden. Stand for 5 minutes then serve with a salad if desired.

I can guarantee this dish will warm you up, cheer you up and pick you up on a cold winter’s night, as well as giving you one of your five-a-day!

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