Healthier macaroni cheese
This veg-packed twist on mac and cheese is great for batch cooking. It’s gluten free, but use regular pasta and bread if gluten isn’t an issue for you.
For the mac cheese
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 2 gluten-free and reduced-salt vegetable stock cubes
- 1 litre/1¾ pint boiling water
- 600g/1lb 5oz butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped (about 500g/1lb 2oz prepared weight)
- 600g/1lb 5oz sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (about 500g/1lb 2oz prepared weight)
- 200ml/7fl oz semi-skimmed milk
- 1kg/2lb 4oz dried gluten-free pasta (such as macaroni or other short pasta)
- 360g/12½oz light extra-mature cheddar, grated
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- gluten-free garlic bread, to serve (optional)
For the optional additions (mix and match whatever you fancy)
For the mac cheese, heat a large sauté pan or flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Add the oil and onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until just softened.
Meanwhile, crumble the stock cubes into a large, heatproof jug, add the boiling water and stir well until dissolved.
Stir the butternut squash and sweet potatoes into the onions, then stir in the stock and milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. If you're baking rather than microwaving the dish, preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil (use your largest pan, or you may need to use two saucepans), then add the pasta and cook for 8–9 minutes, or until just tender. Don’t overcook it as you will be cooking it further in the sauce. Drain and set aside.
Using a hand-held stick blender, blend the squash and sweet potato mixture until smooth. Stir in the cheese, salt and plenty of black pepper and cook over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted, stirring occasionally. Toss in the cooked pasta and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and coated in the sauce, stirring occasionally.
Serve immediately, or transfer each single portion to a heatproof bowl and add whichever additions you fancy. Stir well, then bake for 10–15 minutes or cover with kitchen paper and microwave on high for 1½ minutes, until piping hot (see Recipe Tip). Serve with gluten-free garlic bread, if using.
Cool any leftovers, then spoon single portion sizes into individual airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat in a microwave oven, place one portion onto a suitable heatproof plate, and stir in whatever addition(s) you want. Cover with a piece of kitchen paper and heat on high for 3 minutes until hot through. Stir well, and if not piping hot, heat on high for a further 20 seconds at a time until hot through, then serve.