We call this ‘Green Pasta Bake‘, cunningly omitting the word ‘spinach‘ from the title!! The trick is to whizz up the spinach into the sauce, therefore making it unrecognisable as a vegetable. This recipe also makes a little meat go a long way. One large chicken breast can feed the whole family! This recipe feeds a family of 5 with leftovers for my lunch the next day!
- 1x large chicken breast or left over roast chicken
- 1/2 pint of chicken stock (fresh or stock cube)
- 1 tsp dry mixed herbs
- 1 tbsp corn flour & a knob of butter mixed to a paste with a fork (add more butter if it’s not forming a paste)
- 6 cubes of frozen spinach
- Mug of defrosted or canned sweet corn
- 250g whole wheat penne dry pasta
- 1 ball mozzarella, chopped
- 50g cheddar cheese, grated
- If using a raw chicken breast, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water (2cm over the chicken) bring the water to a simmer and cook for approx 12 minutes or until cooked through (check the thickest part), chop into approx 1.5cm cubes
- Use the poaching liquor (foam scum removed) or water if you are using left-over chicken, to make your stock in a small sauce pan (add one stock cube to 1/2 pint of the poaching liquor but keep the remaining liquid to loosen the sauce later if needed)
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions minus 1 minute. For whole wheat pasta, I would normally cook for 10 minutes but for this recipe only 9 as it will cook again when baked in the oven
- Drain the pasta and set to one side
- Put your stock on a low heat and add the flour/ butter paste, stirring continuously until the sauce begins to thicken and lumps have gone
- Add the mixed herbs and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes to cook out the flour
- Take the pan off the heat and add the frozen spinach and allow to defrost and warm through, this will also lose the sauce
- Whizz the sauce with a hand held blender (a jug attachment on a blender could also be used), if you feel that the sauce is too thick at this point add a little extra poaching liquor or water
- In an oven proof dish, mix the pasta, see corn, chicken, mozzarella and sauce.
- Top with the cheddar cheese
- Bake at 180C for 10-15 mins until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling and it is hot all the way through
- Once assembled, this dish can be left to cool and then baked later. When baking from cold, cover (tin foil or oven-proof lid) and bake for 15 mins then remove cover for a further 10 minutes.
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