Broccoli and cheese pasta bake
A creamy broccoli and cheese pasta bake with plenty of veg and a crispy, golden topping – what’s not to love?
- 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
- 50g/1¾oz plain flour
- 625ml/21fl oz semi-skimmed milk
- 175g/6oz cheddar, grated
- 2 tbsp mascarpone
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 325g/11½oz pasta shells (conchiglie)
- 350g/12¼oz broccoli, stalks and florets roughly chopped
- 1 leek, sliced
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, until it starts to smell biscuity. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently. Cook for around 4 minutes, until thick and silky.
Add 140g/5oz of Cheddar, the mascarpone, mustard and cayenne and cook until the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Cook the pasta in a saucepan of plenty of boiling water according to the packet instructions. About 2 minutes before the end of the pasta cooking time, add the broccoli and leek. Drain and return to the pan.
Stir in the cheese sauce to thoroughly coat the pasta and vegetables.
Spoon into an ovenproof dish, making sure it is spread evenly. Scatter the cherry tomatoes and pine nuts on top, followed by the breadcrumbs, remaining Cheddar and Parmesan.
Bake for 20–25 minutes, until bubbling hot and the top is golden brown.
Once the pasta bake is assembled, you can cool, cover and refrigerate it to cook later. Allow an extra 4–5 minutes cooking time.