While it may be something of a cliché, pasta is one of the ultimate student foods: it’s fast, cheap and filling. Macaroni cheese (or cheesy pasta when lacking macaroni) is a great recipe for when you haven’t got much in the kitchen (I always seem to have cheese and pasta somewhere) or when inspiration is somewhat lacking. Also, if you make the cheese sauce yourself from scratch, this can earn you some serious brownie points, and possibly some actual brownies, with your mother if she asks you if you’re feeding yourself well and not just relying on ready meals and trips to Nando’s.
Serves 2 – can be easily doubled or halved
100g small pasta
100g assorted cheeses of your choice (aka whatever is in the fridge)
30 plain flour
Optional extras – peas, fried bacon pieces, mustard, nutmeg and breadcrumbs for topping
1) Add the pasta to a pan of boiling salted water and cook according to your instructions. If you’re adding peas, put them in the pasta pan about two minutes before the pasta is done. If adding the bacon, fry in a pan until crispy.
2) To make the sauce, there are two options. The first is to just add everything into a sauce pan over a moderate heat, and stir it occasionally until you have a nice, slightly thick sauce. Or you can either melt the butter in a saucepan before adding the flour, this will create a dark yellow paste that you cook for a couple of minutes to get rid of that ‘floury’ taste. After this you turn off the heat and slowly whisk in the milk, trying to beat out any lumps, then you put on a gentle heat in order to thicken. Can you guess which method I chose?
3) Once the basic sauce is made, turn off the heat and add in most of your cheese (and optional crispy bacon), leaving some cheese for later. This time I had raided my parents fridge and found cheddar, gruyere, mozzarella and parmesan. Also, when the pasta is done, drain in a colander and return to it’s original pan. Once the cheese is melted in, you can add a couple of teaspoons of dijon mustard and some ground/grated nutmeg.
4) So, once your sauce and pasta are both ready, add the cheese sauce to the pasta and combine before adding into a dish that can be put under a grill.
5) Sprinkle over the remaining cheese (mixed with breadcrumbs if using) and place under a hot grill for a few minutes until golden and bubbly. Then serve, I had mine for my tea with some salad and garlic dough balls that were on offer at the supermarket.
So, hungry people who have some leftover cheese and pasta, enjoy.
P.S here was my ever hungry pet labrador, Millie, eyeing up a bowl of grated cheese: