Mediterranean macaroni cheese
Traditional macaroni cheese is one of our comfort foods but is usually high in fat, saturates and salt. This recipe gives the dish a flavour of the Mediterranean and is much healthier, reducing the typical calorie and fat content by over 50 per cent.
The spinach and tomatoes boost vegetable intake and provide plenty of important antioxidant vitamins, which are good for heart health.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 500g macaroni
- 1.5 litres semi-skimmed milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 75g olive-oil spread
- 100g plain flour
- 225g ricotta
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 200g spinach leaves
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
- 60g fresh breadcrumbs
- Freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5.
Boil the macaroni in a large saucepan of water until al dente (check packet for timings).
While the pasta is cooking, warm the milk and bay leaf on a low heat until just under boiling point. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
Melt the spread in a large saucepan and sprinkle over the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon over a medium heat and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Gradually pour in the milk and bay leaf, and whisk until there are no lumps. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.
Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Pour over the white sauce and remove the bay leaf. Stir in the ricotta and mustard until combined. Add the spinach leaves and stir through. Season well with black pepper.
Spoon the pasta into a large, shallow, ovenproof dish. Scatter the tomatoes, Parmesan and breadcrumbs over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden.