OVEN-BAKED SPINACH PASTA
(Serves 5 -6)
This is an extremely tasty winter do ahead dish which could be served with a salad but it is really good with a bowl of freshly cooked broccoli on the side.
1 tsp flaky sea salt
350g fresh or dried spinach fettuccine or taglerini
2 whole cloves
1 small onion (peeled and halved)
1l (4 cups) milk
2 bay leaves
60g (6 tbsp) butter
40g (6 tbsp) flour
flaky sea salt freshly ground black pepper
15g (1 tbsp) unsalted butter
150g sliced prosciutto
150g Parmesan cheese (finely grated)
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then add salt. Add pasta to the rapidly boiling water without letting it go off the boil. Cook pasta, stirring from time to time, fresh pasta for 3-4 minutes or till al dente (firm to the tooth but soft to the bite) or dried pasta for 6-8 minutes. Length of time will vary from brand to brand so instructions on packet are helpful. If water overflows while cooking add 1/2 cup cold water.
- Drain pasta, tip into a bowl and cover pasta with cold water to prevent further cooking.
- To make the Bèchamel Sauce: Stick cloves into onion. Place milk in a heavy-based pot with onion and bay leaves and warm slowly. Cover and leave to infuse till cold.
- In a separate saucepan place first measure of butter and melt. Add flour and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes, without browning, till you smell a nutty aroma. Strain cooled milk into butter and flour mixture and whisk over medium heat till sauce thickens. Cook gently for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Melt second measure of butter in a large, heavy pan. Cut prosciutto into strips and soften in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Drain pasta and add to pan with prosciutto. Add 4 tablespoons Bèchamel Sauce. Gently fold together.
- Grease a large gratin dish with baking spray, oil or melted butter. Pour in pasta mixture. Cover with remaining Bèchamel Sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan. • Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Place pasta in oven for 15-20 minutes to heat through. If heating gratin which has been refrigerated allow 30-40 minutes. Just before serving place gratin under grill till the top is golden and sizzling. Serve at once.