Friday 23 November 2018


I don’t usually brag about my culinary skills but when it comes to my infamous blue cheese, dried fig and rosemary mac n cheese I think it’s justified. my friends genuinely request this one dish wonder whenever a dinner party comes around and over the years it has never failed to wow first-time or repeat tasters. Perhaps it’s the unique flavour combo of the sweetness from the dried figs paired with the tangy saltiness of the blue cheese (I tend to go for a Gorgonzola or dolce latte to stop the blue cheese from being to overpowering), finished off with a touch of earthiness from the chopped up fresh rosemary that makes this mac n cheese so special and a cut above your average mac, I for one never fail to get a sense of delight both from making it and seeing people’s face when they first try it, even if it’s been years since I first started to rustle it up. 

Indeed this has to be my all time favourite go-to dinner party dish, which not only looks and tastes impressive but also feeds the hungriest of crowds and is easier to make than you might think! I hope you give this special dish a go, you won’t regret it, believe me.

Serves 4 (with leftovers for packed lunches) to 6 people

500g of pasta (I use the excellent gluten free penne from Dover but any small pasta shape will do)
8 Tbl butter, divided
200g dried figs, diced
1 1/4 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 C flour
675ml semi skimmed milk
450ml double cream
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground
340 g medium cheddar cheese, grated
170g blue cheese, crumbled and divided (I usually go for an Italian Gorgonzola or Dolce Latte rather something super pungent)
salt and fresh ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 220 celsius. 

Grease a large baking pan with one tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain well and add the pasta to the baking dish. Toss with two tablespoons of butter so that the pasta doesn’t dry out and stick together and set aside.

In the pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the remaining five tablespoons of butter over medium heat along with the chopped up onions, figs, and rosemary. Cook until the onion is soft, about six minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook an additional two minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream, and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, while whisking, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fairly thick.
Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in an 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, and the 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. Quickly mix in the cheddar and the 3/4 of the blue cheese.

When the mixture is smooth, pour it over the pasta. Use a wooden spoon to gently mix the pasta and sauce together. Dot the top of the dish with the remaining blue cheese and a bit of salt and pepper. I usually then go on to entertain my dinner party guests while serving drinks and nibbles and whack this baby in the oven when everyone is ready for some cheesy goodness.

When you reach that point of the evening, bake it all in the preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and slightly browned.

Serve with some tangy leafs like rucola for some added greens and freshness, you won’t need any bigger sides as the Mac is pretty rich and filling. Leftovers freeze well so make sure don’t waste a bite and enjoy!