Penne pasta forest

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We're always told not to play with our food, but the ingenious presentation of Josh Eggleton's pasta bake is surely a worthy exception. At it's heart, this recipe is a creamy, cheesy bake of penne pasta cooked in a vibrant broccoli and spinach purée, mixed with a rich white sauce. A forest of purple sprouting broccoli turns this into a something a bit more fun and magical.

First published in 2015




Broccoli and pasta

Broccoli purée

Cheese sauce


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
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
Transfer the purée to a small pan placed over a very low heat to keep warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Cook the penne in boiling water for 10 minutes, stirring 3 times during the cooking process. Strain and combine with the broccoli purée
  • 250g of penne pasta
To make the cheese sauce, add the milk, bay leaf and onion to a small pot, bring to the boil
  • 300ml of skimmed milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
Once boiling, remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
In a separate pan, melt the butter. Once bubbling, stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds
Slowly strain in the infused milk and a little seasoning, whisking until it thickens to the consistency of thin custard
Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and peas, then add to the pasta
Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and place in the oven for 12 minutes
Meanwhile, cut the stems off the purple sprouting broccoli to make little trees approximately 12cm long
Drop the broccoli into boiling water for 4 minutes, then drain
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

It can take decades of dedication and dogged effort to win a Michelin star. Josh Eggleton, though, was ‘shocked’ to win his first Michelin star at the age of 27, after only a few years of being a Head Chef.

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