Its easy to feel melancholy the first weekend in January, we have all gone back to work, its freezing cold and on top of that we have to take down the Christmas decorations! So I ignored that job on Saturday morning and instead put on my socks, then my thick socks, then my welly socks, doubled up my gardening gloves with warm gloves underneath and decided to do some clearing in the garden. After a good few hours of work out there I was starving and had completely forgotten how empty the fridge was. All we had were some last stragglers of veg from before new year and the leftover Christmas Stilton that mum sent us home with and were yet to fully stuff our faces on.
So I set about something hearty, rich and warming to recover from my stint in the garden and prepare myself for the miserable task of taking down the decorations. I debated a quiche or flan with the greens and cheese but they didn’t feel cosy enough for the weather – gooey rich pasta bake though would be spot on and added bonus – all the crucial ingredients are always in the cupboard!
Left Over Blue Cheese Pasta Bake
Enough to serve 6 – or one greedy girl with plenty of leftovers for the next few days
- 300g dried wholemeal pasta
- 50g cheddar cheese
- 350g of Blue Stilton (don’t worry if you dotn have that much anything over 200g will be good)
- 1 tsp dried herbs
- Whatever veggies you have in the fridge: I used 1 large leek, 2 shallots, half a head of broccoli and a handful of kale.
- A handful of breadcrumbs – I had panko in the cupboard so used them
Basic White Sauce
- 75g butter
- 75g plain white flour
- 600ml milk
Add the pasta to a large pan and cover in boiling water and a couple of generous pinches of salt – simmer until al dente the drain.
Whilst the pasta is cooking make your basic white sauce – recipe below.
Crumble in three quarters of your Stilton and all of your cheddar into the sauce along with the mixed herbs and whisk to combine warm until all the cheese has melted, grind in a generous helping of black pepper and remove from the heat.
Chop all of your veggies and soften for a few minutes in a large frying pan with a dash of oil.
Combine your pasta and veggies in a baking dish and pour over your cheesy sauce.
Crumble the remaining stilton over the top then sprinkle over your breadcrumbs.
Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 30 mins by which time the inside should be nice and gooey with a satisfyingly crispy top.
Basic White Sauce
I avoid calling this a Béchamel as technically you should be heating the milk with bay leaves, mace an onion first but who has time for that – especially when you are about to add as much blue cheese as you can!
Melt the butter over a medium heat, remove the pan from the heat then stir in the flour until in forms a smooth paste with no lumps, put the pan back on the heat – add a splash of the milk and whisk to combine, add the rest of the milk and continue to whisk until all the paste is combined and simmer for about 3 mins to cook out the taste of the flour – whisking occasionally.
I then took down and carefully wrapped all the Christmas decorations ready to go back in the loft for another 11 months.