Green mac and cheese

Macaroni cheese is such a classic family meal, the only trouble with it is it’s a bit lacking in the veg department. So I was eager to try out a version I spotted in Innocent’s new cookbook Hungry?

I shall be reviewing the book later in the week, but I really wanted to share this recipe with you as it’s such a winner.

Green mac and cheese from Innocent's Hungry book

Green mac and cheese sneaks cherry tomatoes and sweet nuggets of roasted butternut squash in with the pasta. And then ingeniously combines blitzed broccoli with the breadcrumbs and basil for the crunchy topping.

My kids do both love broccoli, but for those who don’t I imagine this is a great way of getting it into them.

The recipe instructs you to make your own breadcrumbs, but being rather fond of cutting corners (and a bit at sea since my hand blender/mini chopper broke) I used some ready-made stuff.

The pesto people Sacla sent me their new range of breadcrumbs to try and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I used the garlic and herb ones which worked really well.

A portion of green mac and cheese is one of your 5-a-day, so if you serve it up with a big pile of salad then you can tick two off.

The boys all wolfed it down, and the leftovers made a nice packed lunch for Matthew the next day.

Green mac and cheese
from Hungry? a book by Innocent

serves 4 – generously i’d say
Takes about 50-60 minutes to make it
Perfect for making ahead and batch cooking and then freezing or refrigerating until needed

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into little chunks
olive oil
a big bunch basil, stalks removed
2 slices good quality brown bread, stale or dried in the oven
1/2 small head broccoli, about 100g, roughly chopped
4 tbsp creme fraiche
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
100g Manchego cheese, grated
a large handful of cherry tomatoes
300g macaroni

1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and put a large pan of water on to boil.

2. Put the squash pieces in a roasting tray. Drizzle with oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper and roast for about 25 minutes, till golden.

3. Put half the basil, all the bread, the broccoli and a good splash of olive oil into a food processor and whizz to fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Give the food processor a clean.

4. Mix the creme fraiche and grated cheese together in a bowl. Put the cherry tomatoes and the rest of the basil into the food processor, pulse a couple of times, then tip into the creme fraiche mixture.

5. When the squash has about 10 minutes of roasting time left to go, chuck the pasta into the pan of boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes fewer than the packet says – you want it slightly undercooked.

Once the pasta and squash are ready, scoop out a mugful of the pasta water and set aside.

Drain the pasta in a colander, then pop it back into the pan adn pour over the cheesy mixture. Add the roasted squash and give it all a good stir, using the pasta water to help give the sauce the consistency of single cream. The pasta will soak up the sauce once you bake it, so it needs to go into the oven a little runny.

Pour the whole lot into a baking dish, spread the green breadcrumbs evenly over the top and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are cruncy. Serve with salad.

Comments

  1. This sounds good – a real winter warmer. I’ve made macaroni cheese with spinach in before, that’s good too. c

  2. I’m going to have try this. Miss P is very strange when it comes to macaroni cheese, refusing to eat homemade, despite loving pasta, adoring cheese and happily wolfing down the tinned version (hmm, maybe I DO need to try a different version!). Veggies are hugely popular with her so maybe this one will be acceptable?!

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