Tag Archives: Cheese


Healthier 15 minute Mac and Cheese

My kids adore macaroni cheese and as a mother I love it- it’s a meal that’s done in the time it takes to cook the pasta. But it’s a bit stodgy and lacking in greenery isn’t it? I’ve used a Jamie Oliver variant of this recipe, but this one’s a lot easier and you can use most vegetables that are lying around. I find that the vegetables that work best with creamy, cheesy sauces are:

courgette/small squashes

Basically vegetables that cook quickly and according to the list above, don’t have strong flavours.
I use broccoli a lot as I’ve always got it in the fridge and everyone likes it. Here’s what you need for 4 big eaters with at least leftovers for the kids the next day.

500g pasta – (we use rigatoni, but macaroni, fusili etc would all work)
250g Veg
50g butter
a desert spoon of flour
300 ml milk
50-100g grated cheddar (maybe a bit more for the top?)

Get the kettle on and pour boiling water over the pasta (I usually need 2 kettlefuls for 500g- add a tsp salt and allow to boil gently.

Meanwhile chop the broccoli/cauliflower/spinach/courgette into small chunks so they cook quickly. Set aside.

When the pasta is a few minutes away from being ready- throw the veg- it will only take minutes to cook.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. You’re looking for a mixture that is not a liquid. but not a dough either- somewhere in between! Cook very gently, stirring constantly for a minute until the roux is lighter in colour and changes texture. Add the milk a third at a time and keep stirring- use a whisk if it gets lumpy (it always does!) Bring slowly to the boil- the sauce should be thicker now. Turn off heat and add grated cheese.

Drain the pasta and veg and pour over the cheese sauce. Serve straight from the pan or tip into a serving dish, scatter over more grated cheese and bung under the grill for a few minutes until bubbling and golden.

Always a winner.

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Friday 30 minute Frittata

30 minutes. One frying pan, one jug.
The thing about a good Frittata, is it needs to be really, really savoury. And thick. Always use the smallest frying pan you have- it needs to look like a cake when inverted onto a plate. It can take a lot of cheese- up to 150-200g grated parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or any other hard, interesting cheese. This one is inspired by the one I had recently in a local restaurant- Terracotta all primavera colours and amazing flavours. Hidden veg and fast preparation make it a Friday favourite.

For 4 (I’m sure this will do the next day’s lunch too)

7 eggs beaten
splash double cream (not entirely necessary- but if you have it in the fridge..)
1 large potato
2 cloves garlic
1 courgette, chopped
handful frozen peas
2 nuggets of frozen, chopped spinach
150g-200g grated cheese: parmesan, hard goat’s cheese, gruyere (cheddar is a bit boring here)

Heat a small non-stick frying pan with a good few tbsps of oil- you can pour off later. Slice the potato thinly (but not as thin as crisps) and season well with salt. Add to the pan and fry on a low heat (you want to soften, not crisp up) for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile beat the eggs in a large jug. Add the cream and season well.
Remove the potatoes from the pan and add to the egg mixture and give it a stir so the eggs don’t scramble. Pour most of the oil off the pan and add the courgette. Cook on a high heat until soft, then add the peas and spinach. (I usually crush the mixture up a little as whole peas so often cause offence to children.)
Tip the courgette mixture into the eggs, add the cheese and give it a good mix.
Pour back into the pan and cook on a LOW heat for ten minutes.
Blast the frittata under the grill for a few minutes until golden brown.
Serve with some nice crusty bread and a salad. Or just the bread.

food 173

# I Don’t Like Mondays- Cheesy Courgette Gratin

Cheesy Courgette Gratin, 30 minutes from Elizabeth David, On Vegetables.
Make loads of this and have it all week, it’s so delicious I was eating it from the fridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perfect January comfort food- cheap, cheesy and cheerful.

For 4 good sized portions

500g courgettes, washed, trimmed and grated (save time and your knuckles, use a food processor and bung it in the dishwasher afterwards)
100g butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 litre milk
3 tbsp parmesan or gruyere
A cup of basmati or similar

Cook the rice until al dente, meanwhile sweat the courgette in a little butter and leave with the lid on, on a low heat for 5-10 minutes. Make the bechamel by melting the butter in a pan, adding the flour and stirring constantly on a low heat for a minute- add the milk slowly and bring to the boil- stirring- (use a whisk- fewer lumps). Stir in half the cheese and mix with the courgettes and rice.
Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and crunch it up under the grill for 5 minuted. Serve on its on or with anything you fancy.

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