Cheesy broccoli pasta bake
A hearty, cheesy pasta bake is nothing short of a hug in a bowl. We’ve added broccoli and sundried tomatoes to our recipe as a great way for adults and children alike to benefit from their nutrients and textures while enjoying some real comfort food.
For the topping
- 3 slices wholemeal or seeded bread cut into 1cm squares
- 2 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (ideally, chives parsley and sage)
- 30g Parmesan, finely grated
For the pasta bake
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp of oil from the jar
- 70g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 900ml semi-skimmed or whole milk
- 100g extra cheddar, grated
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of paprika
- 300g wholewheat pasta
- 350g broccoli cut into large bite-sized pieces
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and lightly grease a deep ovenproof dish.
- Make the topping by tossing the bread squares in a shallow baking tray with the oil and fresh herbs until it is evenly coated. Season well and bake for five minutes. Turn the squares over and bake for another five minutes. Turn off the oven, remove the tray and allow to cool. Blitz in a food processor for a few seconds, mix in the grated Parmesan and set aside
- In a medium-sized non-stick saucepan, gently fry the onion in one tbsp of sun-dried tomato oil until soft. Turn off the heat, stir in the chopped tomatoes, then pour into a small bowl.
- Using the same pan, melt the butter and flour together and stir to form a paste. Whisk in the milk little by little, stirring continuously on a gentle heat until the sauce thickens, then add the cheddar, mustard, nutmeg and paprika and keep stirring until the cheese has melted. Taste and season generously. Turn off the heat, stir in the onion and tomato mix, then cover and set aside.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and add the pasta. Boil for eight minutes, add the broccoli and cook for a further three minutes. Drain and stir in the cheese sauce until the pasta and broccoli are evenly coated, before pouring it all into the greased ovenproof dish. Smooth the top so it is flat, and sprinkle Parmesan breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
- Grill the pasta dish for 6-8 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden. If you are making ahead, cover the dish with foil and reheat thoroughly before serving.