This is one of those "Aaarghh! It's 4.30 and I haven't thought about dinner and there is no food in the house!" meals. Good old Mac 'n Cheese - it's a great dish for using up bits and pieces lurking around in the fridge. I always seem to have several dog ends of cheese and a few limp vegetables kicking around, and really, as far as I am concerned there is not much that can't be redeemed by a generous dose of cheese sauce.
And so, I present:
Panic Pasta in Cheese and Parsley Sauce.
Sorry the measurements are so vague - I just kind of pour out until it looks enough. (You do that too, don't you?)
Cooked pasta of your choice. I usually have penne or the twirly kind or very occasionally, macaroni - about three quarters of a pound was used here
For the cheese sauce
1 generous knob of butter
1 large heaping tablespoon plain flour.
Melt the butter and add the flour
Stir and cook for a minute or two, so that it foams up nicely. If it is too thick and dry looking, add more butter, or if it is too runny then add in more flour.
Add some milk - I think it was around 1 pint, a little at a time, and mix in well at each addition, until you have a smooth looking mixture. Add salt and pepper and a bay leaf if you like. Bring to the boil over a low heat and simmer for a few minutes.
( if you want exact amounts - 1 oz flour, 1 oz butter and half a pint of milk should give you the consistency you need - double up or whatever accordingly)
Then add cheese - loads of it. Sorry, but I am quite extravagant with the fromage. I had a few ends of cheddar, some kind of soft cheese of indeterminate origin ( probably a brie type) and an end of parmesan - probably about 6 oz in all, but I do get a bit carried away with the grater. Grate it all together and stir in to your sauce. (Make sure you leave enough to scatter on the top). You don't need to cook it any more, as the cheese will melt in nicely.
At this point I remembered I had huge amounts of parsley growing in the herb bed, so nipped out, grabbed a bunch, chopped it up finely and threw it in. Parsley is a nutrient dense little herb, chock full of so many good things, so feel free to use it liberally.
Taste as you go and add more cheese if you need to.
Mix cooked pasta and parsley cheese sauce in an ovenproof dish. I use a shallow glass roasting dish. Cover with more grated cheese. I used more cheddar, and James likes the crispy cheesey bits, so we had a fairly liberal covering.
Brown under the grill or a hot oven for 10 minutes or so, until the top is nice and golden and bubbling and delicious, as Ina would say.
♥♥Lots of ways to play around with this recipe
Sometimes I cook cauliflower or broccoli with the pasta (adding it in halfway through) and you get Cheesy Cauliflower pasta.
Sometimes I slowly cook leeks ( or onion) in butter and add to the sauce. Cheesy leek pasta.
Sometimes I add a spoonful of mustard to the sauce for a lovely piquant flavour. Cheesy pasta Dijonaise
Sometimes I mix breadcrumbs with a small amount of cheese for the topping Cheesy pasta gratin
Sometimes - I do all of the above! Seriously decadent and yummy cheesy pasta.
This amount fed 2 adults and a child for dinner and 1 adult and a child for lunch next day - but that is only because we are quite greedy and didn't have any salad or veg with it - also because it was very, very good.
Just garnishing the post with a sprinkling of Hebridean parsely.
Do try this at home - and let me know how it goes. I have added it to the recipe page xxx