Pesto macaroni cheese
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour in total
200g (7oz) macaroni
100g (31/2oz) pesto
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large leeks (about 300g) sliced
25g (1oz) fresh Parmesan, grated
1 handful fresh breadcrumbs (optional)
For the cheese sauce:
30g (1oz) plain flour
30g (1oz) butter
500-600ml (18-20fl oz) milk
100g (31/2oz) mature Cheddar, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/R6. In a large pan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain well, return to the hot pan and toss with the pesto.
2 Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and cook the leeks for 10 minutes, until softened and sweet. Mix into the macaroni.
3 Meanwhile, tip the flour and 500ml (18fl oz) milk into a large saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir continuously with a balloon whisk for 5-10 minutes, until the butter has melted and the sauce starts to bubble. At this point, lower the heat right down and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and stir in most of the Cheddar, reserving some for the topping. You want the sauce to be the consistency of double cream, so add a little more milk if needed.
4 Mix the sauce and pasta together (along with some fried pancetta or bacon or chopped parsley, if using) then tip into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the rest of the Cheddar, the Parmesan and breadcrumbs, if using. Place on a baking tray (to catch any drips as it cooks), and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Recipe and image courtesy of Sacla