Chorizo Pasta Bake - the perfect comfort food dinner


Deary me it's a sad state of affairs - my only contact with the 18-year-old Henry at the moment is via snapchat, Facebook and text - but I have to say his cooking creation pics he keeps sending me from the flat are mighty impressive. I thought he might like to create a taste of home for his friends with this chorizo pasta bake - total comfort food, it is the perfect dinner for family or flatmates - cheap, easy and ridiculously delicious. (Also a very wise meal to have before heading out to town for a drink or two on a Friday night...not to mention reheated for breakfast the next day!). It's really one of those meals that is greater than the sum of it's parts if you know what I mean. Anyhoo - on with the recipe and counting down just a few more weeks 'til the first uni holiday and a visit from Henry - can't wait to see what he will cook for me while he's home!

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 chorizo, halved lengthwise and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/8 -1/4 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups frozen peas
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
400g pasta such as macaroni, shells, lumaconi, conchigli

White Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
5 tbsp plain flour
2  3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 slices thick white bread, crusts removed, torn into halves
2 tbsp soft butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oil in a big heavy based pot, add onion and cook over gentle/medium heat until just starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Add chorizo, garlic and chilli flakes and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook pasta according to the packet instructions, in plenty of boiling, salted water, until just al dente. Drain well and add to the chorizo onion mix. You can make the white sauce either on the stove top, or in the microwave. The method is very similar. On the stove top, heat the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until just melted. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Add 1 cup of the milk, stirring continuously, until well incorporated, keep adding the milk, stirring while cooking over the heat until the sauce is thickened and smooth. If it misbehaves, just whisk it with a wire whisk until smooth - it should finish thick and silky. Add the Parmesan and wine and stir to combine. Yum. Add this to the pasta chorizo mix. (To make the white sauce in the microwave, heat the butter in a microwave safe bowl, add the flour and cook for 30 seconds on medium. Add half the milk and cook on high for 1 minute. Whisk and repeat cooking twice. Add the remainder of the milk, cook for 1 more minute on high and whisk until thick and smooth. Add parmesan and wine as above.) Add peas and parsley and stir well to combine.

Pre heat oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Spoon delicious mix (without nibbling at it too much), into a casserole dish. Throw bread, butter and Parmesan into a food processor and pulse to your desired consistency - chunky or fine crumbs (or just butter the bread, chop it up and mix with Parmesan). Sprinkle all over pasta. Give the dish a final good grinding of black pepper and bake for 40 minutes, until the topping is golden and crunchy and the pasta and sauce are heated through. Top with finely chopped flat leaf parsley if desired and enjoy. Serves 4-6