I must thank my friend Linda for inspiring this delicious dish. At a loss for what to make and with nothing but leeks and broccoli in the fridge, she reminded me how great broccoli and pasta is with a really good cheese sauce. Yum. I stopped on the way back from her house to buy a lump of smoked cheddar in a deli. I was looking forward to dinner!
Unfortunately, the cheese was the least smokey smoked cheese I’ve ever eaten. It had a vague hint of smoke when raw, but the smokey flavour had completely vanished by the time it was made into a sauce. To the point where I wondered if the deli woman had given me the wrong cheese by mistake. It mostly tasted like a medium-strength cheddar, which is what I’ve written in the recipe below. If you try this with smoked cheese, do let me know what it’s like, because in my mind it was going to be terrific!
As it was, it was still pretty awesome – the cheesy leek sauce was still rich, savoury and sweet all at once. The broccoli and pasta still tasted yummy when coated in it. Maybe the smokiness would have been too much? Perhaps I was saved by a cheese-cutting error? Who knows.
Kipper, in her usual fashion, dismantled the pasta bake and ate it pasta first, then broccoli. Then seconds of broccoli from my plate. (DH had sensibly scoffed his before she could get to it.)
“More broccoli Mummy!” Isn’t that what every pre-schooler asks for?!
This was pretty easy and quick to make. I thought I’d made enough for 4, and had earmarked the leftovers for my lunch the next day, but in the event Kipper polished off an ENORMOUS portion, and I had to have toast instead. Hey ho. Make plenty, that’s my advice.
- 2 medium leeks
- 25g butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 350ml milk
- 100g grated cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 150-200g pasta
- 250g broccoli florets
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Trim the leeks and slice thinly. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and sauté the leeks until softening - about 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and stir well to combine and coat the leeks. Turn down the heat to low, and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.
- Gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Once all the milk has been incorporated, increase the heat slightly and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens to form a sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in two-thirds of the grated cheddar. Taste, and season with salt and pepper if desired.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, and add the broccoli florets for the final 4 minutes of cooking. Drain well.
- Mix the drained pasta and broccoli with the leek sauce, and turn into a baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and golden.
- Serve at once!
I’m entering this recipe in the Extra Veg challenge – I’d usually only include the broccoli in this sort of cheesy bake, so this dish has two veg for the price of one! Extra Veg is hosted by Nadine from JuggleMum, Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy.
I’m also putting it forward for ‘Eat Your Greens’, hosted by Shaheen at A2K – A Seasonal Veg Table.