When I was a student, many of the students around me ate a lot of baked beans and toast and macaroni cheese either from a packet or a tin. I have to hand on heart say, that macaroni cheese never featured ever on my student menu's, not even when I had friends over. The reason simply was that I did not like the idea of cheesy overcooked pasta. I also thought it was a bit boring and bland to eat.
Now I make variations of it all the time with blanched vegetables, foraged ingredients such as wild garlic, to macaroni cheese pies. Today's variation was made with the Romanesco Cauliflower that I picked up from the farmers market last weekend. Futhermore it is topped with a parsley breadcrumb mixture giving it additional crispness.
I am sharing this at Presto Pasta Nights (PPN). PPN was founded by Ruth Daniels of Once Upon a Feast and each Friday night a different host posts a roundup of pasta dishes submitted by bloggers from around the world. This week PPN #243 is being hosted bys Jamie from Cookin with Moxie.
Romanesco Cauliflower Macaroni Cheese
200g dried macaroni or penne
300g Romanesco cauliflower, broken into florets
50g plain flour
80g mature vegetarian Cheddar , grated
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 spring onions, finely sliced
80g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Fresh parsley, minced, plus extra sprigs, to garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cook the pasta. Drain and tip into a large bowl.
Boil some water then blanch the Romanesco cauliflower florets until tender. Drain and add it to the pasta.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6.
Melt the butter in a medium pan. Beat in the flour until a smooth paste. Remove from the heat and gradually beat in the milk until smooth. Return to the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Stir the Cheddar except for 2 tablespoons and the mustard into the sauce and season well. Allow the cheese to melt into the mixture and then pour over the macaroni - cauliflower and fold in the spring onions. Spoon into a ovenproof dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley and remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the top and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and crusty and the filling is bubbling.