Recipe Excerpt: Macaroni and cheese is probably the one dish that no parent ever struggles to get their child to eat. And, let’s be honest, even as adults this gooey, cheesy delight is the crème de la crème of comfort food. I’m always concerned about “empty calories”, so I wanted to find a way to justify a meal that combines obscene amounts of cheese with pasta. And here it is – you’re welcome!
Course: Lunch / Dinner
Preparation Time: 15min
Cooking Time: 45min stovetop + 20min oven
Total Time: 1 hour 20min
500g wholewheat (or white) macaroni
250g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tin coconut cream
1/2 cup red Lentils, soaked
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 sachet liquid (or 1tbs powder) Ina Paarman Vegetable Stock
1tbs sea salt
1tbs paprika** (optional – leave it out if you want your mac & cheese to have a light colour)
1tsp Mustard powder**
1tsp Black pepper**
Chilli explosion (optional for sprinkling on top)
2tsp Ina Paarman Rosemary and olive spice
30ml olive oil (for frying)
Method / Instructions:
Place lentils in a small pot with the coconut cream, salt and herbs (thyme, oreganum, parsley, marjoram, rosemary & olive spice) and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer on low heat – set a timer for 30 minutes. Stirr frequently as it will go quite thick.*
While the lentil mixture is going, lightly roast the spices (mustard powder, fenugreek, black pepper, asafoetida, ginger, turmeric and paprika (optional – leave it out if you don’t want your dish to have a reddish colour)) in a big pot. Remove the roasted spices from heat and set aside.
Brown the onions in some oil in the same big pot. Once golden brown, add the roasted spices back to the pot, combine with fried onions and remove from heat.
Add the fried onions and spices mixture to the pot with the lentils and continue to simmer together for the remainder of the 30 minutes.
Turn off the stove and bring a large pot of water to a rolling poil to cook your pasta. Cook pasta according to cooking instructions on the packet.
While the pasta is going, scoop the lentil mixture into your blender and blend on high for 3 minutes until smooth. Pour it back into its cooking pot and add half to 2/3 of the grated cheese. Stir cheese into sauce until melted, keep stove on low heat so that the sauce doesn’t thicken more.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and place back in the big pot. Pour the cheesy pasta sauce over the pasta and stir through thoroughly.
Scoop or “pour” the pasta into a deep oven dish and cover with remaining cheese. Sprinkle some black pepper and chilli explosion on top if you like a bit of a bite. Bake for 20 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
*If you want a more saucy pasta, add ½ to 1 full cup of water or vegetable broth to the lentil pot at the start of the cooking process.
**These are all warming spices. They aid digestion and offset the “heaviness” of this creamy, cheesy comfort-food dish. If you want a more traditional-tasting mac & cheese, you can leave these spices out, they are the ones that give this dish a bit of “bite”