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Maraccroni and Cheese (with panchetta and tomatoes)

Any form of pasta is popular with Junior Gingerbreads. Any form of healthy yet swift food that can be made in advance and batch baked is also popular with me. Mac and Cheese falls into this category. Unfortunately it's also rather bland and stodgy if done badly. So I messed with it, and now do it in a similar way that I do cauliflower cheese. Some pancetta, fresh tomatoes, a healthy dose of seasoning later we have a more flavoursome dish. I also use chick peas, as you know if you read my blog regularly, I'm a fan of slipping pulses into dishes to boost the fibre and iron content. I usually serve this with green beans or peas. For grown ups a green salad balances out the carb and fat guilt.

500g packet of tubular pasta
1 pint (570ml) of cheese sauce*
10 halved cherry tomatoes or 4 chopped salad tomatoes
Packet of chopped pancetta or  3 rashers of chopped un-smoked bacon
Half a tin of chic peas (rinsed in fresh water)
Garlic (to taste)
1 slice of toast, grated into breadcrumbs
Grated cheese for topping (25g)
Glug of Worcester sauce

I love basil so I like a generous helping freshly chopped on the top just before serving.

*the cheese sauce can be from granules or you can make your own. The better quality the cheese the tastier the overall dish.

Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet.
Make your cheese sauce, add the chopped garlic, pepper & Worcester sauce.
Prepare the tomatoes and mix with pancetta cubes.
Add the chick peas whole, or if you want to hide them mash gently with a fork first.
Drain the pasta and mix it with pancetta and tomatoes in a bowl. Stir in the sauce.
Spoon into an oven proof dish.
Sprinkled the grated toast and cheese over the top.
Bake in the over on 160c for 20 minutes. This cooks the pancetta and tomatoes through, melts the cheese on top into the breadcrumbs, yet doesn't' burn or dry it out.

This can go straight onto the table or once cooled spooned into containers and frozen.

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