Gratin Of Penne with Spinach & Tomatoes
This recipe is easy enough for everyday eating, but good enough to serve to friends. If you haven’t got time to make a cheese sauce, simply replace with a tub of mascarpone cheese and a couple of handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Plunge the penne into a large pan of boiling, salted water; stir once, then cook for 8–10 minutes until almost but not quite al dente, as it will finish cooking in the oven.
Place the cheese sauce in a pan with the cream and heat gently. Heat the butter in a small pan, add the spinach and season to taste, then quickly sauté until wilted. Drain well in a sieve, then squeeze dry.
Grease a shallow ovenproof dish. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pan and fold in the cheese sauce, spinach and tomato strips. Season to taste and tip into the prepared dish.
Mix the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and scatter over the pasta. Bake for about 20 minutes until the top is crisp and golden. Serve at once with the salad.
- 275 g (10 oz) penne pasta
- 450 ml (12 fl oz) cheese sauce
- 4 tablespoons single cream or crème fraîche
- a knob of butter, plus extra for greasing
- 225 g (8 oz) baby leaf spinach
- 2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into strips
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried white breadcrumbs, from a packet
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- mixed green salad, lightly dressed, to serve