This gorgeous mac n' cheese with spinach recipe was devised by Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens. Give it a try as a marvellous midweek meal.
(For people with a lactose intolerance, the dairy ingredients can be replaced with lactofree alternatives.)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
For the cheese sauce
800ml milk or Lactofree whole
100g mature Cheddar cheese or Lactofree mature Cheddar cheese
55g spreadable butter or Lactofree spreadable
25g Dijon mustard
6g thyme sprigs
1g ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic (split)
2 bay leaves
Pinch of nutmeg (grated)
Pinch of sea salt
For the macaroni
200g raw spinach
Pinch of salt
30g Cheddar cheese or Lactofree Cheddar cheese (grated)
30ml olive oil
For the cheese sauce
1. Place the milk into a pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme and a pinch of grated nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. Leave this to infuse for 10 minutes.
2.Meanwhile, melt the spreadable in a pan on a low heat, then add the flour and cook out for 5 minutes stirring regularly.
3. Pour the milk little by little into the flour and spreadable mix, stirring all the time. Have the heat on low so it's not too hot, as it could burn on the bottom of the pan.
4. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a slow simmer for 2-3 minutes at a low temperature, stirring all the time so it will not catch or burn. Then add the mustard and cheese.
5. Turn the heat off and pass the mixture through a fine sieve and into a large glass bowl. Cover with cling film to keep it hot.
To cook the spinach
1. Bring a pan of 4 litres of water to the boil, adding a pinch of salt to it.
2. Add the spinach and cook for 10 seconds, drain instantly in a colander and refresh in cold running water leaving to cool for 5 minutes. Then drain well for 5 minutes so all the excess water is drained out. Squeeze any excess water out with your hands.
To cook the macaroni pasta
1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
2. Bring a pan of 4 litres of water to the boil, adding a pinch of salt and the olive oil.
3. Add 70-100g raw pasta per person. Bring the pan down to a simmer and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente.
4. Drain the pasta in a colander for a few minutes to shake all the excess water out. This is important otherwise it will water the sauce down.
5. Place the pasta into the sauce and mix well. Then add the spinach and spoon it straight into an oven proof baking dish. Sprinkle the Lactofree grated cheese over the top. Place into the oven for 15 minutes and then serve.
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