"This is the mac and cheese recipe I grew up with, I was only introduced to the creamy variety later in life and I still prefer this one! This is one of the first things my mother taught me to cook and I cherish this recipe and its hidden lessons about generosity and balance to this day. To my vegetarian friends, please omit the bacon and give this recipe a go. It's delicious and makes banging leftovers the next day." – Khanya Mzongwana
- 250 g rigatoni or macaroni
- 3 T vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 500 g streaky bacon, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T dried oregano
- 1 T Spanish smoked paprika
- 6 fresh tomatoes, washed and diced
- 200 g tomato paste
- 1 T brown sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 200 g mozzarella, grated
- 200 g mature Cheddar, grated
- 10 g fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and set aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the bacon over a high heat until the fat is well rendered and the bacon in crispy.
2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and peppers. Once the peppers start to caramelise, add the garlic, oregano and paprika. Fry for a further 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and ½ cup water. Simmer for 10–15 minutes, then add the tomato paste, oregano and sugar. If the mixture reduces too much, add an additional ¼ cup water. Season to taste.
3. Mix the cheeses. Combine the cooked pasta, tomato sauce and the cheese and place in an ovenproof dish. Top with the remaining cheese and the parsley. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the cheese is a bubbling. Serve hot with a fresh salad.
Photographs: Jan Ras
Production: Khanya Mzongwana
Food assistant: Thandi Mamacos