1medium head ofbroccolicut into florets and washed
40gbutter (3 tbsp)
40gplain flour (all-purpose flour ⅓ of a cup)
1pint ofsemi-skimmed milk
1tbspfresh thyme leaves
2cloves ofgarlic minced
100gmature/sharp cheddar (1 cup)grated and divided into 70g and 30g portions
50gvegetarian parmesan cheese (½ a cup)finely grated and divided into 30g and 2og portions + more for serving
¼tspfreshly cracked black pepper
1tbspfinely chopped parsley optional
Preheat the oven to 190C/374F.
Make The Sauce
Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook over a low heat until the onion is soft, about 20 minutes should do the trick.
Add the flour to the onion and stir well, until you have a smooth paste.Switch from using a wooden spoon to a whisk then start adding the milk slowly, whisking continuously.Once all the milk has been added leave the sauce to simmer for a minute or two then whisk in 1 tbsp of wholegrain mustard, 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 tbsp of thyme leaves. Simmer again for a few minutes, the sauce should now be silky smooth.Whisk in 2-3 tbsp of water from the cooking pasta.
Turn off the heat then add 70g of grated cheddar and 30g of finely grated parmesan. Stir well and season with salt and black pepper. Set aside until you're ready to use it.
Cook The Pasta
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions minus 5 minutes.About 5 minutes before it is due to be drained add the broccoli florets and cook them both together for about 5 minutes.Drain the pasta and broccoli then tip it all into a large casserole dish.
Make The Pasta Bake
Pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli and gently mix it all together.In a small bowl mix together the panko breadcrumbs and the remaining cheddar and parmesan.Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumb mixture over the pasta then cover the dish loosely with kitchen foil. Place the dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the foil then transfer the dish to under the grill and cook for about 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crispy and the cheese has melted.Leave it to cool slightly then serve. If you want you can sprinkle some finely chopped parsley over the finished dish.
Pasta - I use rigatoni, rigatoni or fusilli to make this. Any hollow pasta or pasta with ridges works well. The sauce will fill up the hollows and stick to the ridges.
Broccoli - Try and cut the broccoli into similar sized florets. I cut them into medium-sized florets as I don't want the broccoli to be too mushy. I always make this with fresh broccoli but you could use frozen broccoli if you want. Just thaw the broccoli first and dry it with kitchen paper so it's not adding too much water to the pasta bake.
Cheese - A good mature cheddar is perfect in this but you could use gruyere if you prefer. I have made this with a lower fat cheese with good results.
Milk - I use semi-skimmed milk forthis sauce, you can use full-fat milk if you prefer.
Freezing/Storing/Reheating - I don't recommend freezing this dish due to the risk of the sauce splitting. Any leftovers though can be reheated in the oven or microwave. You can store leftovers in the fridge for a day or two.
Nutritional Information - is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It is based on one serving.
Measurements - I weigh all my ingredients using an electric scale, all measurements are metric. Cup measurements are approximate.