It was my first time making Macaroni cheese - I wanted to try it for a long time though. Macaroni cheese is very popular in the UK and in the USA - where it's called mac'n'cheese. Its popularity in the USA has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson serving it at a White House dinner in 1802 - who knew it's origins go back that far?!
Recipe for the famous macaroni and cheese couldn't be any simpler - just a white sauce, with a lot of cheese and macaroni cooked just al dente. But, I'm usually not the one to stick to the recipe and always looking for ways to change it, to make it "my own". As it happened I had a lot of broccoli which I had to use, I really hate food waste, but I'm pretty sure that other veges would work great too here - just think of artichokes, cauliflower, mushrooms or peppers!
As it happens there were some cherry tomatoes sitting on the counter top too, looking rather miserable and waiting eagerly for their turn, so they too found their way into this, so not "traditional" at this stage, macaroni and cheese.
Yes, I do know I'm not using the traditional macaroni pasta here either, but have you seen the price of it?! Half a kilo of macaroni shaped pasta costs more than a 2 kg pack of the one I used! I simply can't see a reason big enough to justify using the "traditional" macaroni shaped pasta for this dish.
At the end of the day it's all about the taste, and the looks too. Well, I can honestly say that on both accounts - I've succeeded!
Cheese sauce works very well with the broccoli as well as slightly sharp and acidic tomatoes. The dish is not bland and it has more than one texture, that of the creamy sauce.
How to make it...
- 350 g macaroni (or any other pasta), cooked as per instructions
- 1 broccoli head, cut into small florets
- 2 garlic cloves, just peeled
- 50 g plain flour
- 50 g butter
- 700 ml milk
- spices: salt, pepper, nutmeg, mustard powder (or 1 teaspoon of mustard)
- 150 g cheese, grated
- 1 mozzarella ball, torn into small pieces
- handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cook broccoli, but only a little - it has to be al dente. Drain and put aside. In a rather big pot, non-stick preferably, heat the butter till foamy, add garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add flour stirring constantly, making sure it doesn't burn. Add milk, little at a time, each time incorporating it well, before you add more. After whole milk is added, season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg and mustard. Reduce the heat and stir till it's nice and thick. Remove the pot from the heat and remove the garlic cloves (by that time they have given your sauce a nice hint of garlic, that's all you need), add the whole grated cheese and half of the mozzarella, mix well, till the cheese is completely melted.
Put cooked macaroni into an oven proof dish, add broccoli florets and mix it to incorporate the broccoli through the pasta. Transfer the white sauce onto the macaroni and mix well together, making sure that the sauce covers all the pasta and broccoli. For the topping, arrange cherry tomatoes on top of the macaroni cheese and sprinkle evenly with the rest of your mozzarella.
Bake the macaroni cheese on the middle shelf for about 30-40 minutes (or until the topping is golden brown and it's all bubbling nicely). Take out of the oven, let it "rest" and set for 5 minutes before plating and serve immediately.
You may also like:
Pasta & broccoli salad with Asian style dressing