Macaroni Cheese is one of those foods that many of us have placed on our mental ‘banned substance’ list because of the stonkingly high saturated fat content from all that cheese and butter and cream. But everybody loves it, including my other half who specifically requested macaroni cheese (and shepherds pie, but we haven’t got round to that one yet). Thereby is tricky thing about cooking for somebody else regularly; if you love somebody do you feed them what they want to eat or what you hope will be good for them? Hopefully there’s room for a bit of both, which seems like a good theme for my Valentine’s day recipe; a grown-up but slightly more heart-friendly take on macaroni cheese to make for somebody you love.
This macaroni cheese contains wholegrain pasta and breadcrumbs, a mix of full fat and half fat dairy and a tasty leek. Reducing the saturated fat, including some wholegrain ingredients and a fresh vegetable are all great ways of modifying a recipe to make it more heart-healthy. But there is no need to dwell on these things (or even mention them at all); all that is really important is that this is a gooey and cheesy macaroni cheese with a contrasting, golden crunchy topping.
If you want more advice on feeding yours or somebody else’s heart healthily the British Heart Foundation web site is an excellent place to start . Lest this post be construed as having a slightly tone, remember that women are also risk of coronary heart disease (something us girls tend to forget while we’re busy worrying about other things), as Dr Crippen at NHS blog doctor has just reminded us.
Recipe for A Heart Healthy Macaroni Cheese
Serves 2 (easily scaled up)
2 medium leeks, trimmed and washed and cut into thin rounds
2 tsp olive oil
4 tbsp half-fat crème fraiche
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
150g (5oz) wholegrain pasta (penne)
2oz strong cheddar, grated
1 slice wholegrain bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
Put the oven on to heat up to 190 C, 375 F, Gas mark 5.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Take care not to overcook, the pasta ideally needs to be al dente.
While the pasta is cooking warm the olive oil and cook the leeks in the oil for about 10 minutes (until soft and just starting to turn golden).
Stir the crème fraiche, mustard and cooked pasta in with the leeks, along with about two thirds of the cheese. Season with black pepper and pour the mixture into a lightly oiled ovenproof dish.
Mix the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle this evenly over the pasta mixture.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden on top.
Serve with a green salad (we had rocket, red pepper and roasted seeds)