Feeding fussy children can feel about as easy as pushing socks through a keyhole. Yep. Being a carer, a school teacher, a full-time cook and a Lego engineer is not enough. We also need to be a magician. We’re hiding a cargo of goodness behind this cheesy macaroni sauce, and no one will ever know. Eat your heart out, Copperfield!
The key ingredient is cauliflower, which blends into an outrageously smooth sauce in the absence of cream. I add ground turmeric for extra colour and antioxidant dance moves.
The elbow pasta shapes associated with traditional macaroni is an important stealth factor in securing approval ratings here, if you feel you need it. And a side of Parmesan or cheddar to top. But don’t just reserve this for kids. I thrive on this meal for a WFH lunch. Plus, it freezes beautifully in individual portions.
for 6-8 portions:
1 large brown onion, or 2 small
2-4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
400ml water or home made chicken broth (full of collagen)
1/2 large head (or 1 small head) cauliflower, chopped
125g cheddar cheese
Macaroni pasta, to serve
Peel and chop your onion and garlic. Set aside.
In a large lidded saucepan, warm your preferred fat and sauté your chopped onion for 10-15 minutes until glassy and soft. Now stir in the garlic and turmeric, sautéing for a further 5 minutes being careful the garlic doesn’t colour (as it turns bitter when browned).
Add the water/stock and cauliflower chunks, turn up the heat, and boil for 10 minutes or until the cauli is cooked through. You may be tempted to add more water – but don’t! The less water/stock, the better. This sauce is best thick and creamy, not runny and drippy.
Once cool enough to handle, puree everything into a luscious smooth sauce all-the-while being careful not to burn yourself with splashes. A blender is perfect, or a soup gun. Once silky smooth, return your macaroni sauce to the pan and add as much cheddar as you fancy.
Stir through your cooked macaroni pasta and serve hot. If you’re not eating right away, skip the pasta and freeze the sauce in individual portions instead.
Different pastas to try:
We love the chickpea and wholewheat fusilli by organic Irish company Bunalun, which grabs onto sauce. I’ve only ever spotted it in Supervalu and Dunnes Stores nationwide.
Another one to watch for is the 100% buckwheat fusilli available in savvy delis and health food stores around the country. My boys love it.
Freee (formally Dove’s Farm) do a brilliant 100% brown rice penne pasta that the whole family adores.
Soba noodles can be found in all major supermarkets now (mainly made from buckwheat flour). Another Supervalu treasure is the red lentil lenticchie by a fancy Italian company called RUMMO. This is hands down our favourite. Rummo have plenty of other awesome pasta shapes in a variety of cereals, not just wheat. It’s also worth looking online with bulk stores such as The Source Bulk or Pax Wholefoods, for cheaper, GF, zero-plastic varieties if you eat a lot of pasta. (FYI I’m doing a giveaway this week for Pax Wholefoods stores over on my Instagram account @susanjanekitchen . Win a voucher for you and a friend – delivery all around Ireland).