As a child I always believed that macaroni was a sweet pasta dish. I didn’t realise that the name of a past corresponds to a shape. My childhood macaroni was normally made with penne. Dad used to cook it in a double-boiler, it’s a type of bain marie. The pasta was slowly cooked in a custard sauce and it was rib-stickingly good. This kind of dish was never cooked in the Summer months, but I have great memories of many milk puddings when growing up. Rice, semolina (with a sinful spoon of jam in the middle), tapioca, and this mysterious macaroni.
Now I know that macaroni is a type of pasta, and that it’s incredibly popular with melted cheese. It’s also pretty good with bacon stirred into the cheese sauce. That elevates simple macaroni with cheese to a whole new level, particularly if you drop a little bit of sriracha into the cheese sauce.
Still it’s too flipping hot for heavy desserts in Dublin at the moment. We are in the middle of a warm “fug”; where the skies are quite grey, the air is extremely humid, and the temperature is tipping 20 degrees Celsius. For those not in the know, that my friends, is practically tropical where I live. June is known as the “strawberry month”, and as we have a lot of family birthdays to celebrate in the month of June, most cakes and treats incorporate the little red jewels in some manner or form.
I don’t believe in standing over a hob or an oven unless you have to in this warm weather. Simmering some macaroni pasta for 7 minutes in lightly salted water is the maximum effort you’ll need to do to assemble this sweet mac and cheese. Now I say it’s a dessert but in truth it can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Technically it is suitable for a light supper.
Sweet Mac And Cheese
- 200g dried macaroni
- 250g ricotta
- 150g fresh strawberries
- 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Pour in the macaroni and stir so that every piece is separated. Leave boiling for 7 minutes.
While the macaroni is boiling, hull and chop the fresh strawberries into chunks, set to one side. Stir the honey into the ricotta in a large bowl along with a generous shake of fresh ground black pepper. I think that the honey works well with this recipe in terms of flavour balance but if you’re monitoring your sugar intake then feel free to leave it out.
After the 7 minutes are up, drain the water by pouring the macaroni into a large colander in the sink. Put the cooked macaroni into the bowl with the ricotta mixture and stir so that every piece is covered. Now add the chopped strawberries and stir a second time. Serve immediately with a fresh sprinkling of black pepper on top.
Notes: Don’t be limited by macaroni when making this dish – any shape of pasta is fine. It’s grand to serve this dish cold if you prefer, just wait for the pasta to cool down before stirring with the ricotta. You can speed up this process by rinsing the cooked pasta under a running cold tap.