Sunday 29 March 2015

3 Cheese, Courgette and Rosemary Pasta

The last tendrils of a fading winter are clawing at the door, the world outside my rain streaked window is one of steely greys and bending boughs.

It's still cold as balls out there.

Spring has most certainly not sprung, and I ain't coming out until it does. So with food being the cure for pretty much everything wrong with this latitude, I've been eating a lot of comfort grub lately. That's where this little creamy, cheesy number comes in.

Don't worry, it's got like... an orange... vegetable and a... a green vegetable in there somewhere. So that's like, most of your 5 a day right there! Just make up the other three with cheese. That's how it works, right?

Yes. Yes it is.

1) Fry chopped bacon in a little oil until crisping, then add a diced onion and some garlic.

2) Add a chopped carrot, then a sliced a courgette, plenty of minced rosemary and cracked black pepper.

3) Toss in a couple spoons of flour, and fry for a few minutes.

4) Add enough milk and cream to make a rich sauce, then throw in some cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella.

5) Stir over a low heat until all the cheese is melted. Coat cooked tagliatelle in the sauce.

Couldn't be easier, but oh man does it taste good! Get stuck in while it's still hot and gooey.

This just sounds like a pretentious Mac 'n' Cheese.

Well, eh... yeah. Pretty much! But is there anything wrong with that? Fancy-ass it up a little, throw in some veg... Boom! It's date-night Mac 'n' Cheese! Or, you know, sitting-on-the-couch-in-your-underwear Mac 'n' Cheese. Whichever the case may be.

If, somehow, you still don't feel quite up to the task, detailed instructions are below. Give it a shot!

Ingredients (serves 3-4) - €8

  • ~220g bacon (smoked rashers, streaky bacon... whatever, anything's fine)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 decent carrot
  • 4 large sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
  • 350ml full fat milk
  • 50ml cream
  • 100g cheddar
  • 40g parmesan
  • 50g mozzarella
  • 250g tagliatelle (or spaghetti, or rigatoni, or heck, even macaroni)

    This is one of those quick meals where you prepare your ingredients while you're cooking, so straight away get some olive oil in a pan and start heating it up. Grab your bacon and cut it into little bits. In "the biz", they call these lardons. You can buy lardons, but they cost more than bacon and really what you're doing there is paying for someone else to cut your bacon for you. And come on, you're better that.

    Throw the bacon bits into your hot pan and start frying them over a medium heat. Get them moving so they don't clump together, you want them to cook evenly. In the meantime, dice the onion and finely chop your garlic. Add the onion to the pan once your bacon has gotten nice and crispy. Once the bacon has company, it gets a little shy and doesn't really get any crispier. Let the onions soften, then add the garlic. Garlic has no inhibitions, and just crisps like crazy, so we only let it in once the party's already started. You know the type.

    Keep stirring the pan as you go to keep anything from burning. Next up, scrub or peel your carrot, then cut it in four lengthways and slice them about 2mm thick so you get little carrot quarters, which you can then throw in the pan. Wash and trim your courgette, then cut it in half lengthways and slice them about 2mm thick so you get little courgette halves, which you can then throw in the pan. Woah, déjà vu.

    Strip the leaves off your rosemary, which is easily done by holding it near the tip and running your pinched fingers down the length off it. Throw away the thick stem, then really really finely chop the leaves. Whole rosemary leaves are pretty much inedible, they're that coarse. But if you chop 'em up super small, they'll practically dissolve and give the whole sauce an awesome flavour. Oh, and they'll also tint it green, which is pretty badass. Crack your peppercorns (either in a pestle and mortar or with the side of your knife) and add them and the rosemary to the pan. Give everything a good stir.

    Oh, before you forget, get a pot of salted water on to boil so you can cook your pasta. Now's a pretty good time, 'cause pasta usually takes about 10 minutes, and the sauce should be ready by then. Cool? Cool.

    Now add your flour to the frying pan and mix everything together. All the beautiful, colourful, delicious looking food you've been working so hard on will congeal and turn grey and you'll wonder why, why did you ever trust that asshole on the internet?! Trust me just a little longer, and keep frying that stodgy gloop for another few minutes. You need to cook the flour so it doesn't taste god awful. Now turn the heat down, pour in your milk and stir. Add the cream and stir some more. Wait, is that... Oh no you didn't! Oh yes you did! Dude, you just made a béchamel sauce in your goddamn pan! I'm so proud of you.

      All you gotta do now is chop up your cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella and chuck 'em in the sauce. Stir until they melt completely, and you're golden. The sauce will actually be so cheesy that it will trail those gooey strings when you lift your spoon. You can thank the mozzarella for that. As soon as your pasta is cooked (which should be about now) drain it and toss it straight into the sauce. Mix it all up together and serve immediately. Eat until you no longer care about the weather.

(Fun Fact: When I was growing up, there was that big salmonella scare and so nobody was eating eggs that might be undercooked. Because of that, traditional carbonara was ostracised and I thought for years that macaroni and cheese was carbonara.)


  1. Oooh! Mac n' cheese with vegxcuses! Right up my alley! Mmm cheeesy goodness!

  2. Vegxcuses! I like it! I definitely need to make the effort to add more veg to my meals. And more variety to that veg too. It's so easy to just use carrot and onions over and over...

  3. Made it with conchiglie, they capture the sause beautifully. Didn't have fresh rosemary (a grave loss since it's even in the title), used dried -which I had the audacity to try to chop before I realise I could easily crash it with my fingers. :/

  4. Hahaha! I applaud your determination all the same :) It's a shame that you didn't have the fresh rosemary, but I hope the dried stuff worked without being too overpowering. And good call on the conchiglie, they're perfect for thick, creamy sauces like this one.

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