Pasta is at the heart of many of our favourite recipes – especially during colder and darker months when rich, warming comfort foods are the order of the day. Bertolli have a lovely recipe for macaroni cheese with prosciutto and leeks which we’ve adapted by substituting smoked salmon for the ham. This is very much inspired by a fabulous lunch at Mat Follas’ Bramble Cafe a few months ago.
For most of our shallow frying, Pete and I use a combination of vegetable oil and butter. We love butter for its rich flavour but it burns easily whereas vegetable oils can be heated to a higher temperature without smoking or burning; mixing butter into oil gives us the best of both worlds. A light olive oil is a good choice, neutral in flavour and perfect for cooking.
Today it’s not unusual to have at least one if not two bottles of olive oil in the kitchen cupboard – a regular one for cooking and a richer extra virgin one for salad dressings and drizzling over carpaccio or cheese – and there is much shelf space given to olive oil in most supermarkets. But when I was a kid, it wasn’t so easy to find good quality Italian olive oil here in the UK. Bertolli is one of the brands that has been available in the UK, and respected for its quality and consistency, for as long as I can remember. Far longer than I could possibly remember, in fact – it was founded in Tuscany back in 1865!
One of the products that wasn’t available during my childhood was olive oil in spreadable form. Bertolli make an Original and Light olive oil spread, both made using good quality olive oil. The latest in the range is their Bertolli with Butter, a spreadable combination of olive oil and butter. Of course, you can use it in place of butter – in sandwiches or on jacket potatoes, and in many varied sweet and savoury recipes. Indeed, Gennaro Contaldo recently worked with Bertolli to create a range of pasta recipes that are quick and easy to make, and taste delicious.
I’ve heard people say that making macaroni cheese from scratch is far too time consuming or difficult but it’s actually not that complicated and it doesn’t take hugely long either. And it’s one of those dishes that’s really so much better homemade!
Previously, we’ve always made white sauce by cooking the flour and butter together first to make a roux, and then adding the milk. For a cheese sauce, cheese is simply stirred and melted in to the white sauce. Bertolli’s recipe shortcuts the white sauce by heating butter, flour and milk all at once and to our surprise, it doesn’t result in lumpy sauce – it’s just as silky smooth as the traditional way! Thanks to Bertolli for this wonderful tip; we’ll be making all our white sauce bases this way from now on.
Smoked Salmon & Leek Macaroni Cheese Recipe
Adapted from Bertolli’s recipe
- 250 g macaroni or pasta of your choice
- 15 g butter and olive oil spread
- 1 small leek , sliced into thin discs
- 100 g smoked salmon , chopped into thin strips 2-3cm long
For the cheese sauce:
- 50 g butter and olive oil spread
- 50 g plain flour
- 600 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1/2 tsp English mustard powder or 1 tsp mustard
- 175 g mature cheddar cheese , grated
- 25 g Parmesan cheese , grated
This recipe is based on using Bertolli with butter, a butter and olive oil spread. Use any brand, or substitute for butter.
This recipe works best with a hollow pasta which the cheese sauce can easily fill. Instead of macaroni, we use penne rigate (ridged tubes cut on the angle, slightly larger in diameter than macaroni).
Cook pasta according to packet instructions in boiling salted water. Drain well.
Meanwhile melt the butter and olive oil spread and sauté leek until softened. Set aside.
Make cheese sauce by placing butter and olive oil spread, flour and milk in a large saucepan and bring to boil, whisking continuously.
Make sure your grill shelf allows for the size of the ovenproof dish you are using, then preheat the grill to medium high.
Add Cheddar cheese and mustard to the saucepan and stir until completely melted into the sauce.
Stir in the cooked pasta, leeks and smoked salmon and mix through well.
Pour into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan.
Place ovenproof dish under the grill until golden brown and bubbling.
If you’d like to serve a side dish with this, I’d recommend either a crisp green salad with a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing or a simple stir fry of courgettes or green beans in butter and garlic.
Save for later on Pinterest using this handy recipe collage pin.
Kavey Eats was commissioned by Bertolli to develop and publish this recipe.