Here is a lovely dish to use up that leftover chicken or turkey. Chicken chunks are combined with cauliflower florets, baby spinach and penne in a flavoured cheese sauce which is topped with a crisp, cheesy, breadcrumb topping.
Chicken and Cauliflower Pasta Bake
Prepares: 4 servings
- Preparation time: 40 minute
- Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 225g (8 oz) penne (3 cups)
- ½ medium cauliflower
- 45g (1½ oz) butter (3 tbsp, or ⅜ stick)
- 1 onion, diced
- 45g (1½ oz) flour (¼ cup)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 300ml (20 fl oz) chicken stock (2½ cups)
- 225g (8 oz) cheese, grated (shredded) (2 cups)
- 340g (12 oz) cooked chicken or turkey cut into small chunks (3 cups)
- 115g (4 oz) baby spinach leaves (4 cups)
- 2 tbsp sage, chopped
- 1 tsp thyme, stems removed
- 45g (1½ oz) fresh breadcrumbs (1 cup)
- You will also need a 3 litre (12 cup) casserole dish, greased.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas5)
- Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling, salted water for 6 minutes.
- Next, break the cauliflower into small florets and once the pasta has cooked for 6 minutes, add the florets to the pan. Bring the water back to the boil then cook for 2 minutes. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan. Add the onion and stir to coat with the butter, then cook gently for about 3 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Now stir in the flour and season. Next, gradually whisk in the stock until there is a smooth sauce. Then bring the stock to the boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add three quarters of the cheese, stirring until it has melted.
- In a large bowl combine the pasta mixture, meat, spinach, sage, thyme, and sauce. Pour into the casserole dish.
- Now toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle evenly over the top,
- Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edge and the top is golden.
- Leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before serving.