rich tomato, fresh spinach, and creamy bechamel all make friends in this cozy dish.
- 1 Large packet of penne or other hefty pasta (enough for each of your peeps: I find 500g does more than enough for us four)
- 1 Large onion, peeled and diced
- 3 Large cloves garlic
- 800g tin tomatoes (2x 400g cans)
- 1 Large pinch sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 splash red wine if you’ve got it
- 200g fresh spinach (frozen is fine too)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons plain white flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 Large bay leaf
- 1 pinch each salt and pepper
- 1 cup grated cheddar or tasty cheese
- 1 cup cheese, extra for the top
- Cook pasta, according to packet directions, but take it off the heat and drain it a few minutes early – it will keep cooking in the oven.
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the sauces. If you’re in a rush, you can throw all the tomato sauce ingredients into the larger pot later with the cooked pasta (with the bechamel on top) and it will cook together in the oven.
- In a large pot, saute the oil and garlic over medium heat in some olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, herbs, wine, and tomato paste and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer to thicken and develop the flavours.
- over a low heat, melt the butter and the flour together and cook for about a minute. Add the milk and whisk quickly to combine and make sure there’s no flour lumps.
- Add the bay leaf, salt, and pepper and stir over a low-medium heat until sauce boils and thickens. Take off the heat to add cheese and check for seasoning.
- In a large, oven-safe pot, mix together the drained pasta and the tomato sauce.
- Stir through the spinach.
- Top the pasta and tomato sauce with the bechamel, and sprinkle the last one cup of cheese over the top.
- Bake, uncovered in the oven, until heated through and golden and bubbling on top, about 20-30 minutes.
- Eat with an obscene amount of butter on a crusty loaf of bread alongside.
Keywords: pasta bake, easy pasta bake, bechamel pasta, bechamel pasta bake, spinach pasta, spinach pasta bake