|It's not crumble, it's pasta bake for grown ups.|
I think I must have eaten maybe three pasta bakes in my life and I don't know why it's not more. Pure comforting stodge, an often cheesy creamy carb fest that's gone crispy on the top. A random Nigella recipe popped up on my Facebook feed the other day for an insanely simple pasta recipe involving ham, creme fraiche and peas, the easiest supper ever with room to make it more grown up if you should so wish. The other night I set out to cook tarragon chicken risotto, which is a post Sunday roast special in our house. Except I didn't have any risotto rice* or parmesan. Or onions. Nightmare. I found a secret stash of arborio rice when cleaning out my cupboard the next day, you should do it some time, you find all sorts of things!!!!! After about 15 minutes deliberating whether or not to go to the shop (which would have taken four minutes) I took up the ready steady cook challenge and made do. And that's how this recipe came along.
Feeds two with leftovers for drunken midnight feasts.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Cook enough pasta for 2, use a short pasta like penne or fusilli. Gent fry a finely chopped onion (I used two manky spring onions as it's all I had) in a splash of olive oil or melted butter and add a minced clove of garlic after five minutes. Add a heaped teaspoon of dried tarragon (if you have fresh, great, just add it a bit later, when you add the chicken) and a splash of white wine. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes (but don't let it all evaporate) and add a couple of handfuls of shredded left over roast chicken and season well. Stir in a tbsp of creme fraiche and baby leaf spinach if you have it (this is a super flexible recipe). Grate in a handful of parmesan or cheddar. Drain your pasta which should be cooked by now and mix the chicken mixture with it. Take either individual ceramic dishes or one big one and divide the mix between them. Top with breadcrumbs mixed with the chopped zest of half a lemon, a bit more grated cheese and salt and pepper. Bung it in the oven and it's ready when golden.
Devour with your chosen green, chicory for me, peas for The Husband (I can't stand peas) and then collapse in a carb coma about ten minutes later when you realise how much bigger your eyes are than your fat pasta filled stomach.
*In desperation I even googled 'Can you make risotto with pudding rice?' The resounding answer was a definite no.