Creamy Bacon & Kumara Pasta Bake
An early lesson in my life as a young married mum with 3 children and a mortgage was learning to cook a nutritious meal on a budget.
This is a recipe I have used and adapted over the years – especially great after football practice in the winter months when the teenage boy came home wet, dirty and very hungry! I either had this prepared to heat up and eat straight away – or could have it ready to tuck into as quick as a teenage boy can shower after practice! Well okay maybe that’s an exaggeration. Dinner is usually ready before the teenager is out of the bathroom 🙂
- 500g pasta shells
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 rashers rindless bacon, finely sliced
- 1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
- 600g kumara, peel and cubed
- 150g baby spinach (or a handful)
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 3/4 c tasty cheese, grated
- 60g butter
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 3 cups milk
- 3/4 cup tasty cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to a hot 200°c.
In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until soft. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
In a large frying pan, heat oil and cook bacon for 2-3 minutes until golden. Add the leek and pumara and cook for abut 3-4 minutes
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add flour & thyme and cook, stirring for around 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Pop back onto the heat and cook, stirring constantly until them mixture thickens. Simmer for 1-2 minutes and then stir in the cheese and mustard. Season with salt & pepper. (You just made a white sauce!)
At this point I usually put all of the ingredients into a large bowl to mix together well. So pasta first, then vegetables and sauce. Add the spinach in last – (this does not need to be pre-cooked). Mix all the ingredients well.
Tip the lot into a large baking dish and sprinkle with combined breadcrumbs and grated cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top turns golden and crunchy!
Freezing this pasta dish is another great option for the busy mum – cool it down and then wrap well in glad wrap and foil. It can be in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Now you can make this dish with store bought fresh pasta which is very good, and a jar of ready made pasta sauce. Both of these items are handy and whilst they may save you a few minutes, the cost is not worth it.
I have used pumpkin instead of the kumara (and at the moment that’s a great option – I bought a whole pumpkin for $2.00 last week), and instead of bacon, a couple of pork sausages cooked up and sliced. The younger kids liked this option 🙂
So if you are watching your budget, and have a family to feed, give this recipe a go. Either way it’s a good dish to have up your sleeve with most of the ingredients ‘pantry staples’ making it easy to put together for those last minute dinner guests.
Happy cooking xx