Macaroni bake

There’s quite a lot of ingredients in this, although most of which should be in your store cupboard.  In fact, I only had to buy a carrot, so it’s kind of like a free meal.  Result.

What is even more of a result is that it’s delicious.  The Meat Eater ate a mouthful, declared it ‘yum’, finished before me for the first time ever and asked me to make it again.  Fine praise indeed.

It’s not the most lowest of calorie dinners, with it containing cheese, flour, milk, lentils and pasta, but I’m going for a run tomorrow and can therefore eat what I like.

I wish.

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Macaroni bake (serves 4 – I halved the ingredients to serve 2)
Taken from Leith’s Vegetarian Bible

For the lentil layer
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, finely diced
110g/4oz red lentils
1 x 400g/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
a pinch of sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
a few drops of Tabasco sauce
2-3 tablespoons mango chutney

For the topping
110g/4oz macaroni
20g/¾oz butter
20g/¾oz plain flour
a pinch of cayenne pepper
425ml/¾ pint milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
wholegrain mustard
85g/3oz Cheddar cheese, grated
85g/3oz Parmesan-style cheese, freshly grated
1 teaspoon dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
  2. First make the lentil layer: heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion, garlic and carrots.  Cover and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion is softened and transparent.
  3. Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, salt, pepper, bay leaf, Tabasco and chutney to the pan.  Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked and the excess liquid has evaporated, leaving a thick but not dry mixture.  Discard the bay leaf and transfer the lentil mixture to a deep ovenproof dish.
  4. Make the macaroni topping:  bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the macaroni and cook, uncovered, until al dente.  The water must boil steadily to keep the macaroni moving freely and prevent it from sticking to the pan.  Drain thoroughly and rinse under boiling water.
  5. Melt the butter in another saucepan and add the flour and cayenne.  Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat, pour in the milk and mix well.  Return to the heat and stir until boiling, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and season to taste with salt, pepper and mustard.  Stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the grated cheeses and spoon the macaroni mixture on top of the lentil layer.  Mix the reserved cheese with the breadcrumbs and the mustard and sesame seeds, if used, and sprinkle evenly over the surface.  Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the topping is golden-brown.

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