Cauliflower macaroni and salad sides

IMG_2783 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. IMG_2652 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. IMG_2653 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. IMG_2703 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. IMG_2701IMG_2704IMG_2705 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! IMG_2655 Sprinkled atop the macaroni mixture – and it was at this point I covered the dish until dinner time. IMG_2707IMG_2710 (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… IMG_2711IMG_2712 Which I stirred through some chopped cherry tomatoes and baby bocconcini. IMG_2713 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. IMG_2776 All together now! IMG_2778 Warm cauliflower macaroni, with basil tomatoes and a lemony green salad. IMG_2784 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. IMG_2794 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…. IMG_2643 Details to come! What about you? Tried any tasty pasta dishes lately?

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