Soufflé-topped pasta bake

    55 min

    A topping lightened with whisked egg whites and finished with a sprinkling of Parmesan can make a simple pasta and vegetable bake very special. You can use a wide variety of vegetables with the pasta in this easy version of a soufflé. Serve with a vitamin-packed salad of chicory and watercress.

    3 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 30 g (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
    • 150 ml (5 fl oz) boiling water
    • 115 g (4 oz) small pasta shapes, such as ditali (thimbles) or conchiglie (shells)
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 30 g (1 oz) plain flour
    • 240 ml (8 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
    • 2 eggs, separated
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 can sweetcorn, about 340 g, drained
    • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:25min  ›  Ready in:55min 

    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5). Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and pour in the boiling water. Cover and leave to soak for 15 minutes.
    2. While the mushrooms are soaking, cook the pasta shapes in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain the pasta well.
    3. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and chop them finely. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms for 4 minutes or until the onion is softened but not browned. Sprinkle over the flour and stir in well, then gradually pour in the milk, stirring. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, and simmer until thickened. Add seasoning to taste.
    4. Pour half the sauce into a bowl. Stir in the egg yolks and set aside. Add the reserved mushroom liquid to the sauce left in the pan, then stir in the cooked pasta, parsley and sweetcorn. Turn this mixture into a greased 1.4 litre (2 1/2 pint) ovenproof dish.
    5. Whisk the egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Stir 2 spoonfuls of the whisked whites into the sauce in the bowl to lighten it, then, using a large metal spoon, carefully fold in the remaining whites.
    6. Spoon the egg white mixture over the pasta mixture and spread it out gently to the edge of the dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes or until puffed up and golden. Serve immediately, before the souffléed topping collapses.

    Parmesan cheese

    Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.

    Some more ideas

    Use 340 g (12 oz) small broccoli florets instead of the mushrooms and sweetcorn. Cook the broccoli florets in boiling water for about 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain, reserving 150 ml (5 fl oz) of the cooking liquid to use instead of the mushroom soaking liquid. * Use wholemeal pasta shapes instead of plain.

    Plus points

    Sweetcorn provides useful amounts of fibre and vitamin A. * Eggs are an inexpensive source of protein, and they contain useful amounts of vitamins A, E, B2, B12 and niacin.

    Each serving provides

    B12, calcium * A, B1, B2, niacin, iron, selenium

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     -  16 Oct 2012