Wednesday 25 February 2015

Green Macaroni Cheese.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Today is a day which needs macaroni cheese.
 On Saturday, it felt like spring. Then, on Sunday, we had heavy snow. Last night, it rained a lot and now there's a strong, freezing wind blowing out there. We definitely need macaroni cheese.

I've shared a simple macaroni cheese before along with a posh version. But, this Green Macaroni Cheese that I'm showing you how to cook today is comforting enough for a cold February day but with enough greens to keep your doctor happy.

Macaroni cheese is always a blank canvas - you can add in anything you want (cheesy topping, extra spice, cooked chicken, breadcrumb top - anything!) But the rule? It must be green, in this case. Unless you're a rebel and decide that what this mac and cheese needs is purple cabbage.

P.s. I cannot believe I forgot to add peas to this - it's my favourite green vegetable.

 A Simple List of Ingredients:

1. Broccoli
2. Kale
3. Baby Spinach
4. Mangetout
5. Jalapeno Chillies

6. Butter
7. Plain Flour
8. Milk
9. Salt and Pepper
10. Cheddar Cheese
11. Dried Pasta

Bismillah, let's begin!

First things first. Bring a large pan of Water to the boil. (I filled mine about 3/4 full). Cover with a lid - it helps it boil faster.

Next, to tackle our green veggies. Now you can tailor this to whatever you like or have in the fridge. This recipe, for me, started out with the idea of putting broccoli in to my mac and cheese. Then, I had spinach, kale and mangetout in the fridge so I thought, hey, why not? 
It's a random coincidence that they were all green.

Side note: This pear wanted in on the action too.

But I decided enough was enough and snacked on it instead.

Anyway, I shall stop rambling and tell you about this broccoli. This was a pretty small head of Broccoli weighing around 335 grams.

Cut the broccoli into florets.

And, DO NOT waste the stalk. It's the best part in my opinion. Give it a trim to get rid of any weird bits, and chop it up.

Next, a handful (85 grams) Kale.

Give it a rough or fine chop (depending on what you like) and be sure to get rid of the tough stalks. 

Time for mangetout! Also known as snow or sugar peas.
Fun fact: Mangetout is French for 'eat everything'. Find out why here.

Anyhoo, take a handful (85 grams) Mangetout.

Give them a trim and cut into bite-size pieces.

Finally, a handful (57 grams) Baby Spinach.

Give them a rough chop and that's all the veggies done! We will add the jalapeno chillies toward the end.

By now, the pan of water will be boiling. 

Give it a good season with Salt - about 1 teaspoon.

And now, the pasta.

I used trottole - this was one of those that are flavoured with spinach and tomato.

And, I also used macaroni.

You can use any pasta shape that you have in the cupboard - you'll need 226 grams Dried Pasta.

Add them to the boiling water. Cook according to packet instructions.

About half-way through the cooking time, add in the broccoli and mangetout.

They will cook along with the pasta.

At this time, it's a good idea to get the cheese sauce on. Take a large saucepan and set over a low heat.

Take 85 grams Butter.

Add to the pan.

Let the butter melt as the broccoli and pasta cooks.

Once the butter has melted, take 85 grams Plain Flour.

Sprinkle into the melted butter.

Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes over a low heat until the floury smell has gone.

At this point, it'll be about the final minute or two of the pasta and broccoli cooking. Add in the chopped spinach and kale - cook until wilted but still green in colour.

Don't be like me and make a total mess of the cooker.

Once the pasta and veg are cooked, drain.

Next, to finish the cheese sauce, take 2 pints Milk.

Slowly add the milk over a medium heat - stirring after each addition.

Once all the milk has been added in, slowly bring everything to a boil and then turn the heat to low.

Now, for the best part - the cheese! Take 85 grams Cheddar Cheese.

Add the cheese to the sauce. Now as this is Macaroni Cheese, you can add as much cheese as you like. So, go for it!

Finally, add Salt and Pepper, to taste. You can also use white pepper too, which I like sometimes.

Give the sauce a stir and let it continue to thicken. Once thickened, TASTE IT. If there's not enough cheese, salt or pepper, add more, to taste.

Place the cooked pasta and veggies into a deep pan.

Pour the sauce into the pasta.

Give it a gentle stir.

Finally, take 2 Jalapeno Chillies. These are completely optional but I think they add a lovely spice which cuts through the creaminess. 

Remove the seeds from the chillies (or leave them in) and finely slice, and add to the pasta.
Stir in and TASTE. Adjust seasoning, as needed.

The macaroni cheese is ready!

If you want, cover the pasta with breadcrumbs and more cheese. Bake until golden brown so you get a crispy top like here.

I couldn't be bothered so we ate it as it was!

Whether it's still snowing where you are or the first signs of Spring have arrived, this Green Macaroni Cheese is perfect for dinner tonight. With so many green veggies, it's practically a salad!

Full Written Recipe:

Green Macaroni Cheese

Prep Time: About 10 minutes
Cook Time: About 20 minutes
Serves: About 6 people

1 small head Broccoli (about 335 grams), cut into florets
Handful (57 grams) Baby Spinach, chopped
Handful (85 grams) Kale, chopped
Handful (85 grams) Mangetout, chopped
2 Jalapeno Chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
85 grams Butter
85 grams Plain Flour
2 pints Milk
½ teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
85 grams Cheddar Cheese (or to taste)
226 grams Dried Pasta


Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. About halfway through the cooking, add in the broccoli and mangetout. Then, in the final minute or two, add in the kale and spinach. Drain.

In a deep pan, heat the butter. Once melted, add the plain flour and cook, stirring, for about two minutes over a low heat until the floury smell has gone.

Then, slowly add the milk over a medium heat – stirring after each addition.
Slowly bring everything to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Add in the salt, pepper and cheese. Stir and let the sauce thicken.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.

When you’re happy with the sauce, pour it over the pasta and veggies. Add the sliced jalapeno and stir gently.

Taste again and adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Serve straight away or top with more cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in the oven until crispy and golden brown. Enjoy!

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