Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Very cheesy pasta with parsley

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


  1. What a comforting dish for a cold evening. I can smell it from here - cooked cheese. I rank that smell up there with freshly ground coffee beans and fresh baked bread.

    The parsley looks wonderful.

  2. I am preparing this tonight and I think I'll add broccoli to it.
    Thank you so much for the recipe, my guy's are going to be thrilled.

  3. Oh this sounds so good! Thank you for sharing. Mom says we just don't use enough parsley here and this is perfect!

  4. That looks so good! I am a fan of cheese and I too amke a kinda version with leeks and then sometimes I grill tomatoes on top.

  5. We had cheese sauce over steamed potatoes, carrots and the first sprouts this year!! (and a slice of granary bread)

  6. That mac-n-cheese looks soo good ! I know what I'm making for dinner !!!! :)

  7. Making me hungry just looking at your photographs! Yum!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  8. Delicious! Sadly my girls and I get migraines and avoid cows cheese and cows milk, but we do eat goats cheese and goats milk so could make this with them instead. I think I will do that!xxx

  9. That looks so good, I meant to ask for the recipe when you posted the photo earlier in the week. I now REALLY fancy mac and cheese for dinner

  10. I'm with Liz...jeesh this makes me hungry..your photo is superb! And since it is morning here, I thought, you know there is no reason I couldn't eat that for breakfast too! I used to love a BLT for breakfast and my niece loved a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast!
    Yum!! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Yum yum yum yum yum yum.



  12. Hooray! I was hoping you'd share that recipe! :)

  13. This looks so yummy it almost makes me sad that I'm not eating it right now!


    That is EXACTLY my kind of recipe.

  14. oh my goodness, can i come for dinner? :)

  15. Glad you all like this - do let me know how yours turns out.
    Trish - I have made this with goats cheese and milk before too. Still yummy.
    Meggs, leftovers are very nice for breakfast too!
    Would be wonderful to have you all for dinner - wonder how much cheese and pasta I would need...


  16. this is just hilarious. i was giggling all the way through, mostly because i've so been at that stage of the evening when all of a sudden you realize the maid is not coming today and you're on.
    i appreciate your creativity and using-whatever-is-about. i might add that i also think cheese rocks! you have a wonderful sense of humour.


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