Blue cheese, pancetta and sprout pasta bakes

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The festive season may well and truly be over but that doesn’t mean that sprouts need to be forgotten about until December. They are still in season and can continue to be enjoyed (honestly, they are a wonderful vegetable!) and they lend themselves to a range of simple dishes so banish any thoughts of them being boiled beyond recognition and get in the kitchen. This recipe is also perfect for using up any leftover blue cheese from your cheeseboard that may have been relegated to the back of your fridge. I used blacksticks blue cheese but use whatever you fancy as the flavour of sprouts can stand up to a variety of cheeses.

Ingredients- serves 4
250g Brussel sprouts- cleaned and shredded
1 onion- finely chopped
100g cubed smoked pancetta
40g plain flour
40g unsalted butter
250ml double cream
250ml milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
150g blue cheese of your choice
70g parmesan- grated
Panko breadcrumbs
400g pasta of your choice

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take a large frying pan and heat a small glug of oil. Gently fry the shredded sprouts and onion until they start to soften and then add the pancetta cubes so they have time to begin to turn golden. Remove from the heat whilst you make the cheese sauce. Cook your chosen pasta shapes as per the instructions and, when al dente, drain well.

2. In a suitable pan, melt the butter and flour together to form a roux. Slowly add in the milk and cream whilst you stir all the while to avoid any lumps from forming. Simmer until thickened and then add in the mustard and stir well to ensure it is combined. Take the sauce off the heat and add the blue cheese and majority of the parmesan, reserving some for the topping.

3. Tip the sprout mixture into the sauce and make sure it is evenly distributed throughout the sauce. Add in the drained pasta and place in one large ovenproof baking dish or four individual ones. Combine the remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs and top the pasta. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve by itself or with a simple side salad.

Blue cheese, pancetta and sprout bakes- sprouts are for life, not just for Christmas!

 

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Creamy Brussel sprout gratin

After a Christmas of boiling sprouts to within an inch on their lives and then serving them up only for family members to bemoan them, this poor old vegetable needs a revamp! This gratin pairs the earthiness of sprouts with the sweetness of shallot, saltiness of ham and luxury of cream so read on…

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Ingredients- serves 2
A small bag of sprouts approx. 250g- peeled and trimmed
30g butter
30g plain flour
150ml milk
150ml double cream
50g parmesan
1 banana shallot- finely sliced
4 slices of Parma ham or similar
30g breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180fan. Heat the butter and flour together in a saucepan before adding the milk and cream little by little. Make sure no lumps form! Bring to the boil when all the milk is combined before lowering a gently simmer to thicken the sauce.

2. Meanwhile, par boil the sprouts and set aside. Take a small pan and gently fry off the shallot until softened and turning golden. You can also either use the same pan to crisp up small pieces of the ham or you can add this uncooked later on so it’s up to you. I used Carmarthen ham which worked perfectly.

3. The sauce should now be ready to season and to stir most of the parmesan into. Reserve some to combine with the breadcrumbs (I used panko) for the topping if you like. Add the sprouts, ham and shallot to the cheese sauce before placing in an ovenproof dish to bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Serve as the main event or with a meat dish. It also goes well with a good piece of steak!

An indulgent gratin perfect to use the last of the Christmas sprouts!