Now the leaves are on the trees, along with peach, pear and apple blossoms. My daffodils have bloomed and gone, and the tulips are taking their bow. I hope that winter is a distant memory where you are too.
This is a yummy recipe containing one of my favorite veggies, leeks. It also has a lovely cheesy, mustardy sauce, which enhances the flavor of the leeks, and the fresh breadcrumbs give it a nice crunch. For the breadcrumbs, I usually toast 2 slices of wheat bread and Mick crumbles it up into chunky breadcrumbs. Well it gives him something to do when he’s loitering around the kitchen getting under the feet. :-) You can, of course, pulse them in a food processor, if you prefer.
For a veggie version, omit bacon, use 4 leeks instead of 2, 8 ounces of mushrooms instead of 6, and vegetable stock instead of chicken.
2 slices wheat bread
6 slices bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 leeks, sliced
8 ounces penne pasta
1 cup chicken stock
1½ tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground mustard powder (use 1 if you don’t like it too mustardy)
½ cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded and divided
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Toast bread, crumble into breadcrumbs and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan covered with a lid, simmer leeks in chicken stock for about 5 minutes.
- While leeks simmer, put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta, and fry bacon until crisp. Set bacon aside to drain on kitchen paper.
- Drain leeks and set aside, reserving ¼ of a cup of stock.
- Add pasta to boiling water, reduce heat to medium-high and boil gently for 5 minutes. Drain into a colander and set aside.
- While pasta boils, make sauce. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over a
medium heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in flour and mustard powder. Gradually add the ¼ cup of stock until you have a smooth paste. Return pan to heat, gradually add milk, then cream, stirring continuously until sauce thickens.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in half the cheese.
- Grease a 7x11x3-inch baking dish with a little butter. Add pasta, leeks, bacon and mushrooms to dish and mix to combine the ingredients. Pour over mustard/cheese sauce, top with remaining shredded cheddar, and finally top with breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.