I've been having a massive craving for macaroni cheese for the last month. I blame the #meateasy.
On a hot Saturday, I woke up and knew what I wanted to eat. I'm not really big on light food when it's hot. My cravings have nothing to do with the weather. So I made some macaroni cheese.
I had been thinking about a few versions, mainly Helen's ultimate macaroni cheese and Ree's fancy one. But then I had some bolognese leftover in the fridge and that combined with bechamel, cheese and pasta is basically pastitsio, one of my favourite Greek dishes. So I went for it.
The measurings in the recipe are vague. It could really be summarised in a few words: mix pasta, cheesy bechamel and bolognese sauce. Top with cheese. Bake. But here's the (slightly) more detailed version anyway.
Bolognese Macaroni Cheese
Ingredients (enough for 6)
500 gr pasta
portion of bechamel sauce:
5 tbsp flour
5 tbsp oil/butter
1 - 1 1/2 pint milk
pinch of salt (go easy as the cheeses will be salty)
lots of ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
a mixture of cheeses (I used gouda, pecorino and a couple of spoons of mascarpone)
leftover bolognese sauce (I used about 1 1/2 cups, you can certainly go for more as it was on the light side)
extra pecorino for the top
For the sauce: quickly fry the flour with the fat, making sure you don't burn it. Turn the heat right down. Warm the milk in the microwave and add it slowly to the flour-oil mixture, making sure it's fully incorporated at every step. Season with salt and pepper, add nutmeg and the bay leaf and let it come to boil while stirring very frequently, to stop lumps from forming. If it becomes too thick, add some more milk, whisk, and let it reach boiling temperature again. You want it relatively runny so that the end result isn't too thick and stodgy. Remove the bay leaf.
Boil the pasta for 2-3 minutes less than what the instructions say. Toss with a bit of olive oil and set aside.
Add the grated cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted. Add the pasta and mix well. Finally, stir the bolognese sauce in.
Spoon the mixture into oven dishes (I used a couple as I didn't have a big one available). Top with more grated pecorino and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top is nice and golden.
As it's quite an intense meal, I served it with some spring greens. I boiled them for 2-3 minutes - don't overcook them as they will lose their vibrant green colour and most of their goodness. Steaming would work too. I then quickly fried them with a drop of olive oil, a finely chopped garlic clove, salt and plenty of pepper and nutmeg. It made for a great side dish.