20-Minute Macaroni Cheese

Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding. 

Consider this. It's Friday. You're tired, and the kids are complaining that they're hungry. You want something comforting and delicious but quick to make too - on the table in 20 minutes. Well, I've got it for you. It's a super-quick macaroni cheese *cue wild applause*.

quick macaroni cheese

But before I get carried away I have to say that I got the idea for this mac 'n' cheese from Jamie Oliver. In his recipe in Cook With Jamie, he does away with the need for floury béchamel sauces and long baking in the oven. I've modified it, so it spends less time in the oven, you spend less time at the stove and also so there's less washing up (always good). I've limited the ingredients too, so as long as you have some macaroni in the cupboard and a few cheeses in the fridge, you're most of the way there. By all means add herbs, chopped ham, grilled bacon - whatever you have to hand - if you wish. This recipe is also great for those who need to eat gluten-free - as there is no flour in the sauce, you can just use gluten-free macaroni pasta. 

20-Minute Macaroni Cheese (Inspired by Jamie Oliver's Macaroni Cheese recipe)
Serves 4

300g macaroni (use a gluten free variety if you need to)
250g tub mascarpone cheese
25g Parmesan, grated 
125g ball of mozzarella

Boil the macaroni until it's al dente - it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain the pasta well (reserving  about 3 tablespoons of the starchy cooking water), and flick the oven on to 220ºC. 

Tip the macaroni back into the pan you cooked it in, along with the reserved water and stir in the mascarpone. Grate in three-quarters of the Parmesan cheese, stirring to mix well. Taste and season if it needs it (the Parmesan is often quite salty and for my children, this is often enough). Tip the whole lot into an ovenproof dish and tear up the mozzarella ball, scattering it over the top of the macaroni. Finish by grating over the remaining Parmesan. Slide the dish into the hot oven, and bake for 5-7 minutes, until a light golden cheesy crust has formed over the top. You can finish it under the grill if you prefer it darker. 

Allow to cool only ever so slightly and serve. 

quick macaroni cheese on a fork