Okay, today I’m feeling a bit better and more enthusiastic about writing again. Yesterday was Mother’s Day and hubster brought us all out for a Western dinner. But I’m reminded of my own mother and the sort of Western dishes she would make for us. My mom doesn’t cook Western very much, but I remember a handful of recipes she would make like; steak (her steaks were divine!), spaghetti bolognese, apple pie, homemade beef burgers, fish fingers and this baked pasta dish which I still make today for my family.
There has been many versions of this quick one-dish meal, but my other always uses lean chicken and some sort of hard vege. But that is not to say you’d have to follow exactly what goes into the filling. It’s really up to you. I like to keep it simple because the cheese sauce is rich enough to coat all the pasta and you don’t want fillings that is too chunky to bite into.
The secret to this recipe is…well, after I’ve written this down it’s no longer a secret…are these instant soup packets, mushroom flavor (below) to make a really yummy white sauce. Don’t bother sweating out flour in melted butter, this is a great and fast alternative. I used the packets because the amount is just enough for my family of three, but if you have more mouths to feed, then I think you can use the whole canned soup type, just double-up the other ingredients.
BAKED PASTA RECIPE
Cooked short pasta
1 onion, chopped
Lean chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1 cup
A medium head of broccoli, separate into florets
Grated parmesan cheese
Grated cheddar cheese
1 box of Campbell instant soup (3 packets), mushroom flavor
200 ml cream
A handful of grated cheddar cheese
1. In a heated deep pan, pour your olive oil and cook the onions and chicken. Pour in the cooked pasta and coat everything with the oil and chicken. Season sparingly with salt and black pepper.
2. Off the heat, toss in the broccoli florets and toss it around. You don’t want it super cooked because you still have to bake it in the oven.
3. In a pot, pour in the instant soup from the 3 packets. Add some hot water and stir to dissolve them. What I like to is use a ladle and pour it through a small strainer, just to get rid of those stubborn lumps.
4. Pour in the cream and stir in low, slow heat.
5. Add in the grated cheddar cheese. Taste and adjust.
6. Pour the pasta, chicken and broccoli into a deep oven baking dish. Arrange the broccoli florets so it spreads around the dish.
7. Pour your sauce over the pasta, start first with the corners and sides before working your way to the middle, if you just pour all the sauce in the middle, it won’t spread evenly. Give the dish several taps to make sure the sauce has seeped all the way to the bottom or use skewers to poke it through.
8. Lastly, sprinkle the grated cheeses on top and bake in a 200C pre-heated oven for 20 mins or till the top has gratinated.
9. Let it cool for 15 mins before eating.
I am submitting this recipe to the Very Good Recipes-Family Challenge