Squash, sage, and Stilton mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon


hen I was at sixth form, I also worked three jobs (ish), and dreamed about all the free time I’d have as a grown up. Monday to Friday was sixth form – although around half of that time was sitting in the common room, or taking trips to Tesco in free periods – and Friday afternoon was cleaning for a family friend. Weekends in retail. Half-terms split between retail and a part-time feature writing job at a local magazine. Monday to Friday, nine to five, sounded glorious.

How adorable, right?

Now, it’s all busybusybusy, hours flying by before we can even stop to think how we’re spending them (the tube. The tube is where we’re spending them). And it’s for this reason that I’ve become a cheat in the kitchen, relying on recipes that can be made in a big batch and easily tweaked and recycled across multiple nights. For months, this was big bubbling pans of chili, made often enough that it became a flat joke. The holy grail of lazy home cooking? Big batches that can be frozen, and reheated fairly quickly.

Squash, sage, and Stilton mac 'n' cheese with bacon // The Dinner Bell

So, this is definitely a cheating recipe. More of a serving suggestion, maybe? We’re throwing back to this excellent soup recipe and using it as a pasta sauce, which means we’re sneakin’ in some extra veggies without sacrificing any taste.

We’re also saving time and energy by grilling the top to get it good and crispy, rather than baking. I’d like to say I did this by choice, but the reality is that our oven has broken – it broke a couple of days before I was due to bake a birthday cake, so instead I’ll be baking and photographing in an unfamiliar kitchen. In a boys’ flat. With all the baking equipment I’m carrying right now, I’m clanking around like the worst one-man band imaginable.

There’s plenty that can go wrong with that, but with this sweet and smokey, crispy and cheesey macaroni? There’s no going wrong.

Squash, sage, and Stilton mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon

Serves two


1 serving of brilliant soup
2 or three rashers of bacon (smoked, if you have good taste)
150g macaroni (uncooked)
5tbsp panko breadcrumbs
30g cheddar, grated


Cook the pasta in salted water. Fry your bacon, however you like to – I cut the fat off, because a lifetime of dieting has turned that into straight up habit, chop it into smallish pieces with scissors, and fry. Maybe you’d prefer fat on, chopping up after it’s cooked.

Drain the cooked macaroni, leaving a tiny bit of starchy water behind in the pan, then add and mix together the macaroni, soup, and bacon. Warm over a medium heat, just to heat it though – unless you have an oven! In which case, you’ll bake the lot.

Transfer to a small roasting dish, and top with panko and cheese, and grill until golden (or bake, you lucky working-oven-owners).