My boyfriend is currently working abroad at the moment.

How I feel about this seems to change every five minutes.

Quite a lot of the time, I’m fairly indifferent to be honest. He’s still in the same time zone so, when we’re both at work, we have our usual email exchanges back and forth. It doesn’t really make much difference whether he’s sat in his office on the other side of the river or whether he’s sat in his office 8,000 miles away.

And I’m so used to one (or both) of us working late or travelling for work that it doesn’t seem particularly strange to me to go home to an empty flat and to potter around by myself for a few hours before heading to bed alone.

Other times – the hours leading up to his departures, my solitary dinners in front of the television – I’m slightly overwhelmed by how much I miss him and how much I’m used to sharing my life with him. On Sunday, in the hours before he left for his latest long-haul flight, I refused to let go of his arm, resolute in the belief that, if I didn’t let him leave the flat, then he wouldn’t have to go away at all. (Then he pointed out that he needed to go so that he could pay the mortgage on our new flat and I decided that he had a very valid point).

In order to keep myself entertained while he’s away, I decided to see if I could eat vegetarian. When I was about seven, I told my mother that I was going to become vegetarian. I don’t really remember why but I imagine was because someone in a boy band said that it was cool. My mother, in the way that mothers do, pointed out that I didn’t actually like any vegetables and that this was not perhaps the best idea I’d ever had. I couldn’t really argue with this and so back to my carnivorous ways it was.

Thankfully, my diet has expanded since then but, like so many people, I know we eat too much meat. This is a combination of my dislike of anything fish (my diet hasn’t expanded that much) and my boyfriend’s long-held belief that a plate of vegetables does not constitute a proper meal.

It’s been an interesting experiment and shown me that the world is very much still geared in favour of meat-eaters. It has made me far more mindful about my food choices and, despite what this post may suggest, I haven’t just eaten pasta for every meal as I feared might happen. Whether I can convince my boyfriend to change his eating habits on his return is a whole different question though…


Kale and three cheese macaroni cheese

Yield: Serves 2

Adapted from Hawksmoor’s macaroni cheese 

Hawksmoor is an excellent chain of steak restaurants in London. The meat is serious business there but my favourite part of every meal I’ve had there has been the rich macaroni cheese that they serve as an accompaniment. I was going to beg my brother, who works in one of their restaurants, for the recipe but luckily I discovered that it was already to be found online. The kale is really my attempt to justify eating three different kinds of cheese in one meal. I made a couple of small changes to the original recipe – apart from the addition of kale. I used corn flour rather than regular flour to make the roux; I always find I get a much better consistency with the former and it means that, if you use gluten free pasta, you have a gluten free macaroni cheese. The other change I made was to adjust the cheese proportions. I’m not a huge fan of stilton and I find a little goes a very long way. Feel free to play around as you see fit though. 

  • 150g (6oz) pasta (macaroni or penne works best, can be gluten free)
  • 30g (2 level tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 30g (1 heaped tablespoon) corn flour (aka corn starch)
  • 400ml (1 2/3 cup) milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 30g (A little over 1 oz) stilton
  • 50g (2 oz) fresh parmesan, grated
  • 50g (2 oz) mature cheddar, grated
  • A generous handful of kale (I used cavolo nero), roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F fan.
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water for about 8 minutes until just about cooked.
Drain the pasta and set aside until needed.
To make the sauce, heat the butter in a large pan over a low heat until it starts to bubble. Add the flour to make a roux and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.
Gradually add the milk, bay leaf and nutmeg (you can heat it all first, I don’t normally bother), stirring constantly until the sauce becomes thick.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the stilton and most of the parmesan and cheddar, reserving a little of both to sprinkle on top.
When the cheese has melted into the sauce, add the pasta and kale and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into an oven dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

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32 Responses to "kale and three cheese macaroni cheese"
  1. well this mac and cheese is a beautiful place to start… if you need any pointers, i’ve lived with a veggie for years so I have lots of tasty tricks up my sleeve!… beautiful recipe, thank you x

  2. decocinasytacones says:

    I´m fond of macaroni and cheese, I think it´s part of any comfort food. Nice pictures.

  3. Jenny says:

    I love you addition of kale to your mac and cheese. I’ve been attempting vegetarianism this month, so far I have failed every day! I’m going to have to add this recipe to my dinner list

  4. My husband has to travel for work quite often and it can be both a good and a bad thing. It’s, I don’t know, healthy to miss him but I do enjoy the quiet every now and then. I like it for a couple of days and then I’m ready for him to come home.

    I’m loving this mac and cheese. Any excuse for kale is good by me!

  5. Erin says:

    Oh goodness I don’t know that I could ever be vegetarian. I probably would be eating pasta every night. ha!

  6. carey says:

    I was a vegetable-hating vegetarian many years ago (ahh, college), and it was very silly. I’ve learned to love a lot of healthy things since then, and kale is one of my favorites. And combining it with pasta and cheese sounds downright delicious!

  7. Jenny Hartin says:

    Kathryn, been crazy mad with house issues and now am catching up. This mac and cheese looks fantastic. I have mixed feelings when Jim is away too – one moment – I miss him and then the next – I’m enjoying the peace and quiet. I hope the time goes quickly. xo

  8. I LOVE macaroni cheese. We always put little crispy bacon bits in it but I could easily be tempted by lovely earthy kale.
    This looks absolutely delicious – when you say it serves two, did you actually sneak the other half to yourself while noone was looking since you were home alone? I definitely would have :-)

  9. Sophie says:

    I have yet to try kale but I’m confident I would like it if there were three cheeses involved. This dish looks extremely delicious.

  10. Bev @ Bev Cooks says:

    Oooooo I love this. I’ll come keep you entertained while your man is away. Wait, that sounded creepy.

  11. Antonia @ Health Inspirations says:

    Such a cute post!! Although I actually don’t eat a lot meat I went vegetarian for a month last year….my family (especially my brother who has the same way of thinking as your boyfriend) thought I was crazy but I didn’t feel like I was missing something. Too bad I can’t try the recipe, I just can’t find kale in Germany.

  12. Katrina Mona says:

    Looooove! This sounds so tasty!

  13. Susie says:

    Sweet words. With regards to your comment about the world being geared to eating meat, are you kidding?! There are SO many ways of eating meat free now and the Internet and book shops are full of recipes. Two very popular recent books that I like too are Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and River Cottage Veg Everyday by HFW – neither of them are vegetarians. My favourite place to start is roasted veg, either Mediterranean style or root veg. Eat them warm or cold (eg in a salad with a little dressing), topped with roasted pine nuts, on a bed of cous cous, mixed with puy lentils (just twenty minutes ftom dry – no faffing!) folded into pasta, use them in a veg lasagne, top with mash (normal potato, champnir sweet potato like a shepherds pie, use as a tart filling or wrap in filo pastry, top with goat’s cheese or feta, use as a pizza topping or a savoury muffin filing, wrap in a buckwheat pancake, blitz to a soup and add cannellini or butterbeans……
    Enjoy the rest of your veg time and plan a special meat feast for when your man comes home!
    PS I love the addition of the kale in your mac cheese and the use of three cheeses. Delicious and very comforting – ideal for when you are home alone!

  14. Susie says:

    Oops! Champnir = champ or. Damn iPhone!

  15. Alice says:

    I once gave up meat for Lent- I actually found it quite easy! Now I try to have a meat-free day at least once a week- it really isn’t that bad, but this may be because I adore vegetables. Love to you re: your boyfriend being away. Hopefully the time will pass quickly :) x

  16. Katie (The Muffin Myth) says:

    It can be an adjustment eating veggie for sure, but you live in one of the most vegetarian friendly cities in the world! I love the food labelling system and the huge variety of veggie items and alternatives in London. Not such a priority in Stockholm, but still manageable. And I’m with you on the mixed feelings. The Hus left today for another trip abroad so I’m flying solo for a week. I do love the quiet and lack of mess, but have pangs of loneliness. Only pangs though. I like the idea of this mac n cheese. I’ll have to give this three cheese version a try and maybe stir through some frozen kale or another green. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Julia says:

    This looks amazing, what a good idea, spicing up mac and cheese. I always keep a lot of kale in the fridge so i cant wait to try this out.

  18. Amy says:

    Yum! Thanks for sharing this great recipe. I think the added kale is genius. You should tell the restaurant!

  19. I usually like a little quiet time but I’m over it after a day or two. I do love the meals I make when Paul is gone, though. And this one is awesome!

  20. Bernideen's Tea Time Blog says:

    I think this sounds delightful – I’m very inspired to try it!

  21. I find it hard to say not to any kind of mac and cheese, vegetarian or not :)

  22. Ashley says:

    Awwww, I feel the same way when my boyfriend travels. It’s like bittersweet. However, this kale mac and cheese is all amazing! I wish you lived closer so I could come over for a bowl!

  23. realistic nutritionist says:

    I usually miss Elliot so much when he leaves, but never when I leave, haha.

  24. nutmeggo0410 says:

    Megan/Country Cleaver :: Ben leaving when we were doing the long distance thing was the hardest days ever. But consoling yourself with pasta and cheese seems like the perfect way to console that case of the “sads”. Hope he comes home soon!

  25. Laura says:

    Looks delicious! There’s a huge bag of kale in my fridge and I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it… this seems like the perfect recipe to use it in!


  26. Sounds like a fun challenge to distract you a bit while the boy was away! I love a good veggie-filled mac and cheese. I’ve found with boys, if you don’t explicitly tell them that something is vegetarian, they don’t often notice…and once they start eating they don’t really care!

  27. Kasey says:

    Your experience sounds strangely similar to mine when Matt’s away. I experiment with cooking vegetarian meals (which, I must admit, are often just big bowls of noodles with veggies). I also sit in front of the TV as I eat. I always think it’ll be fun to spend a little alone time, but I inevitably find myself missing him over my bowl of noodles. :)

  28. e / dig in hobart says:

    i’m going to have to try this! it’s coming up to the cooler months of hobart and i love making fancier, vegetablier macaroni cheeses

  29. Love the kale in this mac and cheese recipe!! And LOVED reading about how much you are missing your boyfriend — brought back so many wonderful memories :)

    ps: The husband still travels a lot and that is why I’m occasionally traveling as well — to be with him :)

  30. Julie @ Table for Two says:

    oh my gosh, this looks SO good!! I LOVE a good and comforting mac & cheese. this will hopefully help with the traveling abroad blues :( thinking of you!!

  31. Heidi says:

    I just made a kale and swiss grilled cheese this would be perfectly paired with :) and I love it when I have time at home without the man. Until it comes to doing the dishes :)

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