Vegtastic one pot mac and cheese
Celebrate National Vegetarian Week with a veg-heavy, super-healthy macaroni cheese...
It’s National Vegetarian Week from 15-21 May 2017 and to help celebrate, we’ve got a turbo-charged, veg-heavy, super-healthy macaroni cheese comes courtesy of James Wong, the Kew-trained botanist and food scientist to tuck into.
His fascinating new book, How To Eat Better is about making tweaks to how you buy, store and cook ingredients to boost their nutritional value. (Apparently we should be buying Braeburn apples over Fujis because the former contain double the amount of antioxidants, while storing our mushrooms on a windowsill to double their vitamin D2 levels in just two hours, just so you know) OK, over to you James.
One Pot Mac & Cheese (serves 2, takes 30 mins)
I know I risk messing with this comfort-food classic at my peril. But I promise you, this veg-enriched retake hasn’t lost one bit of creamy, cheesy goodness, despite containing a whopping three times more veg than it does pasta. Made all in one pot (yes, this really does work), this simple cheat reduces fuss, mess and cooking time, while improving its silky texture and nutrient retention. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself!
200g wholewheat penne or macaroni pasta
1 litre milk
200g winter squash, grated
200g cauliflower (orange if possible as it’s higher in nutrients than white) broken into small florets
200g leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely sliced
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube, crumbled
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, minced
150g extra mature cheddar cheese, grated
75g parmesan cheese, grated
Combine all the ingredients except the garlic and cheeses in a large, shallow saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the pasta is tender.
Stir through the garlic and grated cheeses. Cover with a lid, take off the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes to thicken.
Pea & rocket
Make the dish as above, stirring through 100g frozen peas and a large handful of rocket with the garlic and cheeses.
Make the dish as above, adding 100g sautéed mixed wild mushrooms and 1 tsp truffle oil with the garlic and cheeses.
Asparagus & cherry tomato
Make the dish as above, adding 100g blanched asparagus spears and 10–12 cherry tomatoes with the garlic and cheeses.
For a lower glycaemic index version cook the dish the night before, pour into a baking dish and chill overnight. Bake in a preheated oven, 200°C/Gas Mark 6, for 20 minutes. This works because chilling and reheating cooked pasta converts its carbs into a form that is less easy for our bodies to absorb.
Recipe from ‘How To Eat Better’ (£20) by James Wong, out now.