I don’t know about you but I’ve been chilly this week, it’s like summer has been and gone. The rain has lashed down and I’ve found myself reaching for the blankets and a warming mug of hot chocolate.
So in a nod to this crappy climate I slung together the ultimate warming comfort food over the weekend – cheesy pasta. The boys were ecstatic as it’s quite possibly one of their favourite meals. There’s always complete silence when it hits the table and they methodically munch their way through the lot.
The beauty of cheesy pasta is that you can bung your leftovers in with it for a bit of interest and fridge clearing.
A lone leek, a packet of bacon and a handful of frozen peas does a tasty dinner make.
Making a basic cheese sauce was one of the first proper cooking skills my mum taught me when I was about to leave home for university. It’s what I always revert back to when stuck for inspiration – whether you use it for a vegetable gratin, to layer up your lasagne or just mixed into pasta, it’s a little beauty!
A hit of mustard powder in this particular version gave it a gentle tang.
It probably only takes about 20 minutes to throw this meal together so if you’ve had a long day and just want the kids to eat and not whinge, then this is the recipe for you.
Cheese, leek and bacon pasta (serves 4)
1 leek, washed and finely sliced
1 tsp mustard powder (ready made mustard is fine too)
100g cheddar, grated
6 rashers of good quality back bacon
A couple of handfuls of frozen peas
300g dried pasta
1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and then add the leeks and cook on a low heat for five mins until soft. Add the flour and mustard powder, stir in well to form a smooth paste and allow to cook for 2 mins. Gradually add the milk, constantly stirring over a medium heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, add the cheese and stir in until melted.
2. While the sauce is thickening grill the bacon until cooked, then snip into strips with kitchen scissors. Add to the sauce along with the frozen peas stirring well. Cook on a gentle heat for a couple of minutes until the peas are cooked through.
3. Meanwhile cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water and then mix in with the cheesy sauce. Season and serve with a crisp green salad.
Tip: To cater for vegetarians add the bacon last, reserving a portion of the cheesy vegetable pasta. The zest of a lemon would give this dish a summery dimension.