It’s Meat Free Monday again which means I have a really lovely, easy recipe to share. This one is great for a quick kids’ tea as it really should take less than twenty minutes from chopping to serving. We really love macaroni cheese, it is lovely and warming and cheese melting under the grill really makes the house smell yummy!
Although making a roux (flour and butter based white sauce) isn’t difficult, even an expert roux-maker can have issues with lumps so I make a really easy alternative with cream, crème fraîche and cheese. You can use half-fat versions if you prefer. I also add a touch of Dijon mustard and an egg yolk, just for flavour.
This is a really versatile sauce and can be added to any pasta dish (try adding chopped smoked or poached salmon, chopped bacon and peas or chopped left-over chicken for a non-Meat Free Monday alternative) or just make a veggie version, as I have, adding any vegetables you like. You can also skip the pasta altogether and just use it as a sauce for pouring over cauliflower or broccoli.
I have used baby leeks this week, which are in season and make a more colourful alternative to onions. They also have a much subtler and sweeter flavour, don’t make your eyes water and are a great source of Vitamin C as well as iron and fibre. Go for small or medium sized leeks, as the larger ones can be a bit woody. You can remove the outer layer if you need to and give them a good wash removing and grit.
Easy Macaroni Cheese with Baby Leeks
250 g macaroni pasta
200 ml double cream
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat your grill.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add your macaroni or other shaped pasta to the pan, stir and cook according to the packet instructions (firmer/al dente is best)
Finely chop your leeks, add a tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil to a frying pan and gently fry your leeks for a few minutes until they soften.
Pour the cream and crème fraîche into a pan and gently bring to the boil. Once it is very gently bubbling, add the grated Gruyère cheese and mix well. (For extra flavour you could add some extra cheddar too)
Add the Dijon mustard and mix again. Take off the heat and add your egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper and stir again keeping it off the heat.
Drain your pasta and add it to the pan of cheese sauce, tip in the cooked baby leeks. Mix well until all the pasta is coated.
Sprinkle over the cheddar cheese (or use more Gruyèreor any firm cheese) and place it under the hot grill just until the cheese starts bubbling and melting.
Serve and eat as soon as possible.