By the time month end is upon us, most of us have not only run out of dinner ideas, but our budget is in a serious state of melancholy. For this reason, I always ensure that I keep a couple of basic store cupboard essentials for those pesky month end days where my imagination and creativity are at an all time low. Since this dish requires ingredients that are essential pantry staples, it’s affordable, on hand and has easy to follow instructions. This recipe is a winner in every respect and its versatility will encourage your creativeness. All you need is a basic béchamel sauce as your base and a bit of cooking imagination.
Cook’s note: The ratio of this recipe is for 6 people. You can bulk up this dish with added elements such as crispy bacon bits, peas or cheese. You can substitute the spaghetti for macaroni depending on your preference.
Ingredients for béchamel sauce:
80ml or ⅓ cup good quality butter
80 ml all-purpose flour
(always ensure that the butter & flour are equal amounts)
3 cups of full cream milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Method for béchamel sauce:
In a medium sized pot, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir until a lovely golden paste forms. Add the milk one cup at time, stirring continuously to form a smooth sauce. I use a balloon whisk to prevent lumps forming. Once all the milk is added, season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring until mixture has thickened. Once your sauce is made, its time to get creative. For this particular version, I’ve added 1 tbsp whole grain mustard, 2 tbsp of mixed dried herbs and 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Once your sauce is ready, set aside.
Boil an entire pack of spaghetti or macaroni according the packet instructions. Drain and rinse in a large colander. Add to béchamel sauce and mix till all the pasta is coated. Enjoy on its own or with garlic bread and salad.