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Broccoli Mac 'n' Cheese 

Updated: Jan 22

Yesterday on the menu for lunch was broccoli mac 'n' cheese. This super creamy dish is one of my all time favourite comfort foods. Although this time I gave it a little twist - by using red palm oil which is often added to West African dishes like jollof rice and various stews like egusi ( watermelon seed stew). The thing responsible for that deep orangy red colour of the palm oil is a pigment called beta carotene, which once digested in the body it is eventually converted to vitamin A - which of course has many health benefits. I recommend palm oil as a vegan alternative, however it's important to make sure you buy the right one. Palm oil is frequently associated with climate change and deforestation. I think everyone needs to keep in mind the importance of finding ways to help the environment, as well as local communities which harvest the palm tree. I've added links to everything you need to know about sustainable shopping and RSPO certified brands in this blog.

Serves: 6-9 | Cooking time: 30-35 mins

Ingredients

1. 300g spirali pasta

2. 4 chicken flavour stock cubes

3. 1.5L boiling water

4. 2 handfuls of grated mozzarella cheese

5. 1 Tbsp. red palm oil

6. 300ml of milk

7. 4 pieces of tenderstem broccoli

8. 1 Tsp. black pepper

9. 1/2 Tsp. garlic granules

10. 1/2 Tsp. paprika

11. Honey (approximately 1/2 a Tbsp.)

12. Dried cheddar

13. Salt

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C

2. Boil the water in a kettle or bring the water to a boil in a medium-large pot

3. Pour the water over the stock cubes in a pot or if you've done it the other way round, add the stock cubes in the water and boil for a few minutes, until the stock cubes dissolve

4. Add the pasta and boil for 5-8 minutes or until the pasta becomes molto al dente (slightly undercooked)

5. Strain the pasta in a colander, then pour the drained pasta into a medium-large sized bowl

6. Add all your seasoning and a drizzle of honey, then add salt to taste. You won't need a lot of salt since you boiled the pasta in the stock. Mix it up then leave to the side. Start prepping your roux

7. For the roux, melt the palm oil on a medium-low heat in the same pot you cooked the pasta

8. Add the flour and stir until fully combined

9. Slowly start adding the milk. You want to add it little by little to maintain a smooth consistency and to avoid any lumps in your sauce. If desired, add a little more milk if you want your sauce thinner

10. Add the seasoned pasta to the cheese sauce

11. Add 1/2 of the mozzarella and stir well

12. Finely chop your tenederstem broccolis and add them to the pasta. Stir

13. Simmer for approx. 1-2 minutes and then turn off the heat

14. Pour the pasta into a desired dish and spread it across, evenly

15. Sprinkle dried cheddar and the rest of the mozzarella on top of the pasta

16. Broil in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and golden brown spots appear

17. Take it out the oven and allow it to stand in room temperature before serving

Links

https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/8-things-know-about-palm-oil

https://rspo.org/about

https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/palm-oil/palm-oil-free-list

https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/certified-sustainable-palm-oil-is-a-con-says-greenpeace-as-new-evidence-links-certifying-body-to-five-years-of-fires-across-indonesia/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/science-environment-49553703

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