Weekday wonders: pasta bake with broccoli, spring onions and sambal oelek

Pasta bake. Not a single Brit I have met has had a positive experience from a pasta bake. Bad memories from school dinners, or what is it about?

Where I went to school it was one of the few dishes I could actually enjoy a little. Most lunches consisted of a tiny bit of whatever was on offer, because you had to try it, and crispbread with butter and barbecue spice (classy, I know) to not die from hunger in the afternoon.

I promise you though, that this type of pasta bake is miled apart from school dinners and is not boring at all. It is a super easy weekday supper and instead of making a bèchamel I make a creme fraiche based sauce which I like to hot up a little with chilli sauce or in this case, sambal oelek.

To make this dish even better, choose nice dried pasta instead of the cheap ones on offer. I highly recommende De Cecco, which I always use.

Pasta bake with broccoli, spring onions and sambal oelek, serves 4

500 g De Cecco pasta

375 g broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 bunch spring onions, chopped

300 ml creme fraiche

1,5-2 tbsp sambal oelek

salt, white pepper

about 300 ml grated cheddar

Cook the broccoli florets in salted water for just a minute. Pick them up with a slotted spoon and leave to drain. Add more salt to the boiling water and then add the pasta. Cook for 3 minutes less than it says on the packet. Drain and rinse with hot water to get rid of the starch. 

Heat up the creme friache in a small saucepan and add the sambal oelek, salt and pepper. Add about 1/3 of the cheese and let it melt into the sauce. Mix the sauce and the pasta and pour the mixture into buttered ovenproof dish. Distribute the broccoli, scatter the spring onions on top and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for about 20 minutes in 200C oven.