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As it is now officially winter and the snow is really setting in, we all need a bit of stodge to keep us going. A pasta bake is the perfect solution to cold winter nights in when you have either nothing to cook or simply can not be bothered to think. All you really need to do is combine your favourite ingredients with cheese sauce and pasta – it is not hard.
Traditionally a ‘bake’ means cooked in a large casserole dish with a starchy binder such as pasta or potatoes which has a crispy cheese crust on top. Just like sausage and spinach pasta bake – rich, creamy, sumptuous and oozing with flavour. Be warned, do not skimp out on the sausages as they are the best bit!
The perfect combination to any kind of stodgy meal is a nice glass of crisp white wine such as the delightful Torre de Azevedo Vinho Verde, Portugal 2010, but please drink sensibly.
Makes 4 portions:
1 pack of Bramley Apple and premium pork sausages
1 onion (chopped)
1 garlic clove (crushed)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
1 head of broccoli (roughly chopped)
3 handfuls of spinach
1 pack of chestnut mushrooms
1tbsp plain flour
3 cups milk
30g Danish blue
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 handfuls of mature cheddar cheese or cubed Taleggio/Camenbert (my favourite)
2tbsp green pesto
1. Preheat your oven to 220c and put sausages in for 20 mins. Next, add the chopped onion and brown, then add the garlic and rosemary. When all is nice and caramelised, add the mushrooms and cook untill soft. Add in the broccoli next.
2. Whilst the broccoli is cooking down, add water to a large sauce pan and bring to the boil swiftly adding the pasta.
3. Keep stirring the vegetables, season to taste and add the pesto. Now turn down to a slow simmer.
4. Take the sausages out of the oven when cooked (brown) and set aside, now you can make the roux for the sauce.
5. Gently melt butter in a small saucepan, when melted take off the heat and stir in the flour. When all mixed in return to the heat and add the milk. Keep stirring to avoid lumps. When the mixture starts to thicken add the Parmesan and blue cheese. Set aside but keep mixing to combine.
6. Turn off the pasta as it should now be cooked (but still slightly hard to the bite) and drain. Cut up the sausages when cool enough to touch and add to the vegetables. Then add the spinach. When wilted add the pasta. Mix everything together and add the sauce, now mix again.
7. When everything is combined you can add it into a deep casserole dish. Spread to even the top and top with bread crumbs and cheese. Pop in the oven for around 10 minutes or until golden brown and tuck in!