On Saturday, we had our family around for dinner and
a little a lot of rugby watching. It was cold and dark outside, as it is this time of year in Canberra, so when deciding what to cook I found myself leaning towards comfort food. Something filling, something warming, something like this delightful cauliflower macaroni I found in Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals cookbook. While the recipe allowed for the meal to be put on the table speedily, I slowed things down. I prepared the macaroni and the crumb in the afternoon, but didn’t finish the dish off in the oven until just before we sat down to eat. And what a lovely little make-ahead meal it turned out to be. You can find a link to recipe here. To start, I cooked the cauliflower and macaroni in a large pot of boiling water until the pasta was al dente. Then mashed the cauliflower as best I could, stirred through some crème fraiche, grated cheese and garlic, and seasoned well. Then the mixture was transferred to my baking dish. Next the crumb…. I didn’t have any pancetta – but I did have some lovely smoked ham that I sliced thinly and grilled instead. This was then processed with wholemeal breadcrumbs and rosemary – to create the most wonderful smelling crumb! Sprinkled atop the macaroni mixture – and it was at this point I covered the dish until dinner time. (I later baked the dish for about 15 minutes at 200C, allowing the crumb to become crispy and golden brown). Knowing the pasta was quite a hearty and rich main, I wanted to keep the sides relatively simple. First – I made a chunky basil sauce, of sorts, using fresh basil leaves, garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil… Which I stirred through some chopped cherry tomatoes and baby bocconcini. And, to get some ‘crunch’ factor into our meal, I also made a green salad with chopped cos, mint and sliced zucchini – dressed very simply with lemon zest and juice. All together now! Warm cauliflower macaroni, with basil tomatoes and a lemony green salad. A lovely little meal, shared among family. And most certainly comfort food. I rather enjoyed the macaroni – which had the added vegetable bonus of cauliflower throughout. It was creamy, but not too creamy, and the rosemary crumb was crispy and smoky. One thing that was obvious, though, was the serving sizes called for in the recipe were huge. I followed the recipe pretty much to the tee, but even with 6 hungry people at our table (and noting the recipe said it served 6), there was almost half of the macaroni dish leftover at the end. Not that I am complaining (everyone was sent home with leftovers for lunch the following day) – just an observation really! Although perhaps we were just saving room for dessert…. Details to come! What about you? Tried any tasty pasta dishes lately?