I made Jamie Oliver’s Greens Mac and Cheese from his new Veg book to take to work for lunch and it was a really good idea. I looked forward to it every day and was sad when I ate the last portion. Next time I make it for packed lunches I’ll cook the macaroni for three minutes instead of five because by the time it’s been boiled, baked and reheated in a microwave, it loses some of its bite. It's still delicious as macaroni is fairly robust but I prefer al dente pasta.
I didn’t use a blender for the sauce as I don’t own one; instead I cooked the sauce in a large saucepan and used a stick blender. My sauce didn’t look as smooth and silky as Jamie’s and I think I reserved too much of the cheese for the topping so the macaroni turned out more like a pasta bake but it didn't matter - it tasted amazing.
- 1 large leek
- 400g purple sprouting or tenderstem broccoli
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 40g unsalted butter
- ½ bunch fresh thyme (around 15g)
- 2 tbs plain flour
- 1 litre semi-skimmed milk
- 450g dried macaroni
- 30g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 150g Cheddar cheese, grated
- 100g baby spinach
- 50g flaked almonds
- salt and pepper
- Fill and boil your kettle and preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan).
- Trim and wash 1 large leek then slice it into rounds. Remove the florets from 400g broccoli, saving them for later, then finely slice the stalks.
- Add the vegetables to a large casserole pan along with 3 chopped garlic cloves and 40g butter, then strip in the leaves from a small bunch of thyme and cook until softened (around 15 minutes), stirring every so often.
- Stir 2 tablespoons of plain flour into the pan then slowly add 1 litre of milk. Simmer for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly. The sauce should thicken a little.
- Fill a large saucepan with boiled water and salt, then add 450g macaroni and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set to one side.
- Add most of 30g of Parmesan and 150g of Cheddar cheese to the sauce, reserving some of the cheese to top the pasta with later.
- Tip the sauce into a blender along with 100g spinach and blend until smooth.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper then combine it with the macaroni and broccoli florets. Add a little milk to loosen the sauce if needed.
- Tip the macaroni into a 25cm x 35cm dish, top with the remaining cheese and 50g flaked almonds, then bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.