Move over Mac ‘n’ Cheese.
This creamy pasta bake, finished with a crunchy, cheesy, spinach topping is just so good. Even the almost-5-year-old-very-fussy-at-the-moment-eater gobbled it up.
The leek, pumpkin, pancetta and pasta cook together in a mix of stock and coconut cream. Once cooked, it’s poured into a baking dish before topping with a finely processed mix of breadcrumbs, baby spinach leaves, lemon zest and cheese.
This is my version of a recipe from Delicious Magazine, August 2009. I subbed the macaroni for wholemeal penne, the cream for coconut cream, the onion for leek, and instead of parsley in the topping, I used spinach for colour and extra goodness.
You can easily make this a vegetarian dish, by leaving out the pancetta and using vegetable stock.
If you’ve been making the same pasta dish over and over for years now, I hope you’ll give this one a go!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 leek, white part only, washed and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 100 grams pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
- 800 grams pumpkin, peeled, cut into small cubes (to give 3 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 300 grams wholemeal penne
- 300 ml coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- zest of 1 lemon
- large handful of baby spinach leaves
- 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large frying pan.
- Add pancetta or bacon, leek and garlic and cook, stirring until leek is softened.
- Add pumpkin, chilli flakes and half the chicken stock.
- Cook for 6 or so minutes or until the pumpkin softens.
- Add the penne, coconut cream, rosemary and remaining chicken stock to the pan.
- Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes or so, until the penne is al dente (just cooked) and the pumpkin has fallen apart and the liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Stir through the cheese.
- Pour into a medium size baking dish.
- Combine all the topping ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until finely processed.
- Cover the pasta with the topping and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.