Today me and the toddler are back in Manchester after a wonderful trip to Spain. Last night we got in quite late from our flight, which was exhausting even though the boy was very good; he makes a most pleasant holiday partner. But traveling alone when you’re heavily pregnant with a toddler in tow is never going to be easy, no matter how well behaved and amenable they are! Today I’m pretty knackered, so tonight’s tea was really intended to be a last minute throw together.
I was about to embark on a quick macaroni cheese, when it occurred to me to add some leeks that I had mindlessly picked up from my local Tesco Express this afternoon when out buying loo roll! Then I remembered something I made a while back from Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall’s Veg Everyday! book: a spinach and penne ‘spouffle’, as he calls it – a souffle with penne. Could this be done with leeks instead of spinach? I made my white sauce with cheese, sauteed my leeks, cooked my pasta and combined it all. Then I folded the mix into some whisked egg whites and baked. Before I knew it, I’d created something halfway decent for supper that I think is worthy of sharing with you.
By the way, don’t let the word souffle put you off. I’m not the sort of person to attempt tricky dishes where special techniques are required, especially in my current, permanently tired condition. Think of it more as an eggy pasta bake! Serve it with a sharply dressed green salad.
Serves: 4 people
Prep time: 20 minutes minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
For the béchamel:
1 dessertspoonful of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
3 leeks, sliced into thick rounds
Large knob of butter (to fry leeks in)
100 g penne
4 eggs, separated
- Fry off your leeks over a medium heat in a generous amount of butter, about 40g if you’re measuring. Don’t allow them to colour, but cook them for long enough so that they sweeten and soften sufficiently – 15 minutes or so should be enough.
- Meanwhile make your béchamel by microwaving the flour, milk and butter together for about 7 minutes on high, stirring every minute. Add your cheeses, snipped chives, and your mustard once it’s thickened and smooth. Now stir in your cooked leeks. Season to taste.
- Cook your pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain and add to the béchamel and leek mix.
- Separate your eggs. Add the yolks to the béchamel mix and stir. Whisk the whites to firm peaks.
- Fold your béchamel, leek and pasta mix into your egg whites, slowly and gradually. Pour into a large well buttered pie or bake dish and cook on 190C for about 25 minutes.