The K&K Test Kitchen is back from a lovely, family-filled vacation to San Jose/San Francisco and Seattle, which means that we are back to work and back to busy weeknights. Nigel found us this Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake on BBC's Good Food, and it turned out to be a perfect dish for an easy weeknight dinner. It only took about a half an hour to make. This dish also definitely qualifies as comfort food, which is perfect for the cold winter weather we came back to after vacation! Overall, this was a very good dinner, but the recipe could use a little bit of salt and pepper. The cheddar and Asiago combination for the cheese was awesome, but definitely detracted from the "healthiness" of this dish (using skim milk helps though).
Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake
From BBC Good Food
4 cups (1 liter) milk
2 garlic cloves , bashed
2 bay leaves
500g dried pasta
350g broccoli , in small florets
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup plain flour
a little freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp mustard powder
small bunch parsley, roughly chopped (we left this out)
200g cheese, grated (cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyère, or a mixture)- we used cheddar and Asiago
1. Bring the milk, garlic and bay leaves to the boil in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
2. Cook the pasta to al dente following pack instructions (if you're freezing, cook for 1 min less), adding the broccoli for the final 2 mins. Drain.
3. Strain the milk into a jug. Heat the butter in the pan until foaming then stir in the flour for 1 min. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring or whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Bubble for 1-2 mins, stirring constantly until you have a thick, lump-free sauce. (Don't be alarmed if it looks kind of funky as you add the milk, the butter and flour mixture gets fairly thick, but thins out once all of the milk is added.)
4. Remove from the heat and stir in some nutmeg, the mustard powder, parsley, three-quarters of the cheese and seasoning. Combine with the pasta and broccoli and transfer to one large, or individual, heatproof dishes. Turn the oven on to broil. Scatter the remaining cheese over the casserole, and broil in the oven for 2-3 mins until golden and bubbling. You can also freeze the casserole instead of broiling it for up to three months. If frozen, defrost in the fridge overnight, then cook at 400F for 30-40 mins until piping hot.