Crunchy top macaroni cheese with peas and tomatoes

crunchy-top-macaroni-cheese-and-peas

I have made mac and cheese with the classic roux method and with a different stock based method too. They are both good. This one is just really nice and simple, and great if you only have cheddar in, rather than the latter method which is great for a treat but requires four different cheeses! I made this one night last week when the cupboards were fairly bare. It went down a treat; they both loved it. That’s quite a big thing for Artie who claims not to like any cheese, cheese sauce, cheese toppings – apart from Parmesan, which is hilariously middle class of him. I told him the only cheese in there was Parmesan, which is clearly a lie. He bloomin’ loved it. I popped some peas in for some greenery and topped with tomatoes to give them some vitamins. But feel free to leave out if you are going simple and classic. The crunchy topping is provided by panko breadcrumbs, which are fast becoming a favourite ingredient – so good for crunchy topped fish pies and so on… Again, leave out if you want – or top with just Parmesan.

Serves: 4

Takes: 15 minutes prep + 15 minutes cooking = 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 350g macaroni pasta
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of butter
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
  • 1 pint of milk
  • 75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • Mugful of frozen peas
  • About 7 or 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful of panko breadcrumbs
  • Approx 50g Parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Put a large pan of water on to boil and preheat your oven to 190C.
  2. Pop pasta into boiling water and cook for 4 minutes less than it says – very al dente is what you want. Reserve a half mugful of pasta cooking water and drain.
  3. In a saucepan, melt your butter, as soon as it’s melted add the flour. Stir over low heat and gradually add milk. Whisk if it’s lumpy. Stir and increase heat until white sauce is thickened. Add cheese, season to taste and set aside.
  4. Put pasta and cheese sauce, along with peas into a medium sized baking dish. Stir to distribute evenly – add a splash of pasta water if it needs loosening, I always do so it doesn’t get too stodgy – just a couple of tablespoons will do.
  5. Top with halved tomatoes, sprinkle on panko and Parmesan. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until brown and bubbling. This is nice on it’s own or with sausages.

Mac and cheese with peas

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