Ingenious presentation lifts Josh Eggleton's pasta bake recipe from the humble to the extraordinary. It goes without saying that it makes a glorious kids recipe - get them involved in arranging the broccoli on top to make the 'forest'

Method
1.
For the broccoli purée, bring a large pan of heavily-salted water to a rolling boil. Trim the broccoli away from the stem and cook in the water for 6-8 minutes, until soft and slightly overcooked
2.
Transfer the cooked broccoli to a blender, along with 5 tablespoons of the cooking water. Add the spinach, butter and mascarpone and blend until smooth
3.
Transfer the purée to a small pan placed over a very low heat to keep warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste
4.
Cook the penne in boiling water for 10 minutes, stirring 3 times during the cooking process. Strain and combine with the broccoli purée
5.
To make the cheese sauce, add the milk, bay leaf and onion to a small pot, bring to the boil
Tasty trivia
Bay leaves are not just known for their lovely flavour. During the Roman era, a wreath of bay laurels were a symbol of triumph and success, leading to the modern expression “resting on one’s laurels”
6.
Once boiling, remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
7.
In a separate pan, melt the butter. Once bubbling, stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds
8.
Slowly strain in the infused milk and a little seasoning, whisking until it thickens to the consistency of thin custard
9.
Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and peas, then add to the pasta
VideoVideo: Grate cheese
10.
Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and place in the oven for 12 minutes
11.
Meanwhile, cut the stems off the purple sprouting broccoli to make little trees approximately 12cm long
Room for a little one
Let children create the trees for the broccoli forest. Kitchen scissors can be used to trim off the excess broccoli stems
12.
Drop the broccoli into boiling water for 4 minutes, then drain
13.
Remove the pasta bake from the oven. Once the broccoli is cool enough to handle, poke the broccoli stems into the surface of the bake to make the forest. Serve immediately
Room for a little one
Kids can build the edible forest on the pasta terrain. Use a the handle of a wooden spoon to push some spaces for the broccoli trees to go into
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Ingredients

Broccoli and pasta

Broccoli purée

Cheese sauce

  • 25g of butter
  • 25g of flour
  • 300ml of skimmed milk
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g of Parmesan, grated
  • 250g of frozen peas
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of black pepper

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Nutrition (per Portion)

Calories

394
20%

Sugars

10g
11%

Fat

15g
21%

Saturates

8g
40%

Salt

757mg
13%
of an adult's guideline daily amount
The broccoli 'forest' on top of this pasta bake transforms it from a straightforward dish to an incredible one - perfect for serving to kids

Penne pasta forest recipe Tweaks

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