Baked pasta is the ultimate comfort food. We've taken our recipe up a notch with the addition of mushrooms, leeks and silverbeet.
200 grams tubular pasta such as penne or rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
small knob of butter
1 large leek, white and pale green part thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1 bay leaf
300 grams button mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchini, thickly sliced
2 cups packed, shredded silverbeet leaves
finely grated zest and juice of lemon
grating of nutmeg
60 grams butter
60 grams flour
½ teaspoon ground mace
3 cups milk
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons basil pesto
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a little butter
Lightly grease an 8 cup capacity baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Don’t over-cook as the pasta will be cooked a second time. Drain well and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Toss with a little olive oil and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan. Add the leek, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf with a good pinch of salt and cook covered, until the leek is soft. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and cook until tender, increasing the heat to evaporate the excess liquid given off by the mushrooms. Add the silverbeet and turn to wilt. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, the nutmeg and season. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
Sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir in the flour and mace. Cook for 1 minute then gradually whisk in the milk to make a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer over a very low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season well and stir in the pesto.
Combine half the sauce with the vegetables and pasta and tip into the baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce and scatter with Parmesan, a few small pieces of butter and a grind of pepper.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.
To serve: Fry a few sage leaves in a little olive oil until crisp. Scatter over the top.