University of Birmingham graduate with a passion for food & cooking as part of a healthy lifestyle

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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cheesy broccoli pasta bake

I made this the other night - it's nothing too special, I just really fancied some comfort food and a pasta bake is the ultimate comfort food for me. I made a simple cheese sauce and although I'm not a huge broccoli fan, I do love it in pasta bakes (what doesn't taste good when it's coated in cheese sauce anyway?) We also had some bacon in the fridge, and of course I always like to use onions and garlic with pasta so voila, this dish was born! And it is scrummy...

Serves 2-3
- 200g whole wheat penne
- olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion
- 3-4 rashers bacon, cut into chunks
- 150g broccoli florets
- 20g butter
- 20g plain flour
- 200ml milk
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 75g cheddar cheese, grated, plus extra for sprinkling
- pepper, to season

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 / 200 degrees. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, and add the broccoli florets around 5 minutes to the end of the pasta cooking time. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil, then add the bacon until beginning to brown and crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Using the same pan, to make the cheese sauce melt the butter and stir in the flour over a low heat until it forms a paste. Gradually add in the milk, stirring constantly until the sauce begins to thicken. (Be patient, it may take a while!) Once the sauce is coming together, add the mustard and the cheese; at this stage the sauce should be thick and smooth from the cheese. You can always add a little more milk if it is too thick 0 keep stirring!
4. Return the pasta and broccoli to the pan, add the bacon and onion and stir through the cheese sauce. Pour into an oven proof dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar. I added some brie too because we had a bit leftover. Parmesan would work too and add breadcrumbs if you want a crunchy texture.
5.  Season with pepper and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown and crisp on top.

Enjoy :)

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