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Mac’n’cheese with a twist

February 14, 2011

It’s a glum day at the beginning of what appears to be a rather long week, and a warm meal with a certain stodge factor seems in order. Macaroni cheese is perfect comfort food – and I’ve changed the traditional recipe to make it more interesting, which happily results in a (slightly) healthier dish.

Spirali cheese


250g spirali pasta (or gigli or trotolle or whatever you fancy – this is a great chance to use any of the more interesting and unusual pasta shapes. I find macaroni makes this too dense)
3 slices smoked bacon, thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, chopped
2 slices wholemeal bread, ripped into rough chunks
150g frozen petits pois
50g frozen sweetcorn
200g light soft cheese
1 1/2 t English mustard


1. Heat the oven to 180°C

2. Put the pasta on to cook according to the packet instructions

3. Dry-fry the bacon, then add the leek and spring onion with a small amount of vegetable oil and fry until soft

4. Stir the petits pois and sweetcorn into the bacon, leek and spring onion and heat through

5. Drizzle the bread chunks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before putting under the grill, remembering to check, turn and remove once golden

6. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving 150ml of cooking water

7. Add the reserved water, mustard and soft cheese to the pan with the vegetables and grate in cheddar to taste – stir until it melts into a creamy sauce

8. Combine the pasta with the creamy veg sauce in a casserole dish, top with the toasted croutons, grate cheese over and pop in the oven for 15 minutes

I rustled up a side salad with little gem hearts leaves, torn curly lettuce and finely chopped red pepper, with a light olive oil and lemon dressing, for a lovely, crisp accompaniment.

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