Macaroni with Meatballs


Cheese sauce
1 litre/1 pint 15fl oz whole milk
2 bay leaves
40g/1½ oz unsalted butter
50g/2oz gluten free/wheat free plain flour
250g/10½oz mature cheddar or another strong flavoured cheese, grated
1 tsp English mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
250g/10½oz minced beef
1 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, sliced
400g/14oz gluten free/wheat free macaroni, cooked according to packet instructions
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 sun-blushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
2-3 tbsp milk, if needed
2 tbsp grated parmesan


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

To make the cheese sauce, place the milk and bay leaves into a pan and place over a medium heat. Heat the milk to scalding point, but do not boil, and then remove from heat and leave to infuse.

In a clean saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat, then stir in the gluten free/wheat free flour and cook gently for 3 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves from the milk mixture and add a little milk to the flour and butter mixture. Stir to combine the milk and flour paste over a low heat, then repeat the process, gradually adding milk and stirring in, until a smooth paste is formed.

Add the rest of the milk and bring to boil, stirring all the time, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese, mustard and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To make the meatballs, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and oregano and fry until soft and then remove from heat and allow to cool.

Place the onion mixture into a bowl and add the minced beef, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and mix together to combine.

Using your hands, roll the mince mixture into small 2.5cm/1in meatballs.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a clean frying pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs and fry, turning occasionally, until brown all over and completely cooked through.

For the pasta, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and fry for two minutes to soften, then add the cooked pasta and stir well.

Add the tomatoes and oregano and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the meatballs and the cheese sauce. (You may need to add a little milk to loosen the cheese sauce.) The sauce should coat, not swamp, the macaroni.

Transfer the macaroni and meatballs into a large ovenproof dish and top with the parmesan. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until piping hot and the cheese has browned on top.