Saturday, 16 March 2013

Sweet pepper macaroni and cheese/ macaroni pie

Macaroni and cheese or Macaroni pie in some parts of the world is a quick family dinner that everyone is bound to enjoy together. In Trinidad and Tobago, however, it is treated as a side dish and Naz usually likes to have it with red beans and rice during the weekends. Children often tend/want to eat the same food, they like, over a few days. Tonight, Anjalie insisted on wanting "white" pasta (cheesy pasta) again! So to cater to both of their desires, I modified the cheesy pasta into a Macaroni and cheese for Naz. Since we all enjoy Mexicano cheese, I used it and it does have a slight "spicy" taste. But you can use any cheese of your choice.

You will need:
250 grams dried macaroni pasta or pasta of your choice (I did use Fusilli since it is Anjalie's favorite)
4 tbsp of plain flour
1 tbsp butter/olive oil + for greasing
salt and white pepper to taste
100 grams of grated hard cheese of your choice
1 egg (optional)
1/4 cup sweet bell peppers (mixed colors)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 tsp oregano
500 ml whole milk/cream 
2 tbsps milk (optional)

Cook pasta according to instructions, drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Heat oil/melt butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic and saute for 30 secs until soft  (do not let it turn brown) and add the flour and cook for another minute. Add the milk/cream slowly, while whisking, until well mixed without lumps. Add salt (keep in mind cheese has salt already), pepper and oregano. Simmer and cook until it reaches sauce like consistency. Turn of the stove and add sweet peppers and 3/4 of the cheese and mix well. 

**If avoiding the use of egg skip this step and continue to the next one: In a separate bowl lightly beat egg with 2 tbsps of milk. Add this to the pasta mixture and mix well. 

Place the pasta into a greased oven proof dish. Top it up with the rest of the 1/4 of the cheese and bake at 200 degrees Celsius (fan assisted) for 18-20 mins until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown on top. 

Adding egg gives an airy texture to the pie (see pic). But the macaroni and cheese will hold together even without the eggs.

It makes a great snack by itself or can be served as part of dinner/lunch.

Folks in my in-law's house tend to eat them like a side-dish with red beans and rice.

However you choose to eat, macaroni and cheese is another great comfort food that is filling. You can make it more healthy by using wholemeal pasta instead of regular pasta.

Note: You can also bake them in shortcrust pastries to get a traditional Scottish macaroni pie!

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