I spend most evenings sitting by the fire, eating hot bowls of winter food and obsessively watching The Wire. About to finish the third season and am still addicted. Fantastic study of the inner workings of any city. A lot of people spend a lot of time complaining about the way cities work, and that the municipality neglecting their verges, forgetting that suburban living and working in the mainstream economy is the minority reality. Although I am also a sucker for mindless series, the sociologist in me is completely intrigued by the complexity of urban life this series explores. Still very masculine, and in many ways bleak, it makes me feel less like I am wasting my life watching vampire porn. But maybe I am kidding myself…
Anyway… apologies for not sharing more of the food. What can I say, I have been distracted and battery-less.
This evening we had a bunch of stuff that needed eating in the fridge so we made a nice pot of comfort food and ate until we couldn’t move.
- Half a finely chopped onion
- 1 large chili
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tin chickpeas
- Sprig of rosemary
- Heavy handed dash of balsamic
- Heavy handed dash of red wine (optional)
- Tin of cherry tomatoes
- 1 head of broccoli
- Handful of frozen peas
- 200g of pasta shells
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 4 Tbsp flour / maizena
- English mustard
- Grated cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Cheese for the top
- Smoked paprika
Finely chop the onion and brown on a medium heat. Slice the chilli and the finely cut / crush the garlic. Add once the onions are glassy. Drain the chickpeas. I like to crush them very slightly so the sauce gets into them. If they are not slightly broken, they can reject flavour. It also helps reducing flatulence for the sensitive-gutted. Add them to the onion, garlic and chilli and add the balsamic and red wine. Let them all cook up together for a short while. Strip the rosemary sprig and add to the mix. This is more rosemary from my parents’ garden. Add the tin of tomatoes.
Let the tomatoes reduce somewhat before adding the broccoli otherwise the broccoli will get overdone and disintegrate. Add the frozen peas at the end.
While the sauce is reducing you can start boiling the pasta and making the cheesy bechamel sauce. Make sure the pasta is el dente so when it is baked it doesn’t go soggy.
OK, this is going to sound really vague. If you have made a white sauce before you will know that most of it is instinctual. Dean’s instincts with all things wheaty are much more trustworthy than mine, so I stand back and wait for the gluey deliciousness. Mix the flour with melted butter on a lowish heat. Slowly add the milk. It will thicken. Use a whisk to minise lumps. Once it has cooked and thickened sufficiently, add 2tsp mustard and a handful of cheese.Add salt and pepper to taste
Mix the cooked pasta and the sauce and spoon the cheesy mustardy sauce over the top. Add a good thick layer of grated cheese. Sprinkle the cheese with smoked paprika. Bake in a 180 degree oven until the cheese is bubbling and browned.
Serve and eat until you start leaking cheese sauce out of your nostrils.