The Happy Pear: a nourishing and super-delicious pasta bake ready in 35 minutes

Healthy eating: This creamy broccoli and mushroom pasta bake never lasts long in our kitchens

David and Stephen Flynn of The Happy Pear cafes, cookbooks, courses and food production company, are guest chefs in The Irish Times Health Month kitchen this week, sharing dishes from their newly published book, The Happy Health Plan.

CREAMY BROCCOLI AND MUSHROOM PASTA BAKE

A really nourishing and super-delicious dinner which never lasts long in our households. The baked pasta goes crispy around the edges, which goes so well with creamy white sauce.

Serves 6 (takes 35 minutes)

Ingredients
200g dried gluten-free brown rice penne
1 bunch of spring onion/scallions, green parts only (50g)
1 large leek, green part only (150g)
200g oyster mushrooms
250g broccoli
2 tablespoons tamari/soy sauce
4 tablespoons water

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Creamy sauce:
5 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons gluten-free flour
900ml almond milk
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
A pinch of grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf

Topping:
40g gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 tablespoons flaked almonds
A pinch of salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method
1 Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius fan/220 degrees.

2 Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the pasta sticking together.

3 Chop the spring onion/scallion and leek greens) with the leeks, make sure to really clean them thoroughly, as sediment often hides inside). The white parts of the spring onions/ scallions and leeks freeze well, and can be used for another dish. Finely chop the mushrooms and cut the broccoli into small bite-size florets.

4 While the pasta is cooking, make the creamy sauce and cook the veg. Put the olive oil into a non-stick pan on a medium to high heat. When it’s hot, sift in the flour and whisk for two minutes continuously until golden. Add the almond milk slowly, whisking until it all comes together. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Being careful that nothing sticks to the bottom, simmer and whisk for 3-5 minutes. Once you have a smooth, creamy white sauce, remove the bay leaf, take the pan off the heat, then taste and add more salt if needed.

5 Heat a large non-stick pan over a high heat. Once hot, add the green parts of the spring onion/scallions and leek, along with a good pinch of salt, and cook for 3 minutes, until the veg are softened. Add the mushrooms and tamari/ soy sauce and cook for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have reduced in volume and the tamari/ soy sauce has been absorbed. If the veg starts to stick, add a teaspoon of water and stir to loosen. Add the broccoli and the water, reduce the heat to medium, cover tightly with a lid and steam until the broccoli is just cooked, about 5 minutes. Taste and make sure the broccoli is soft and cooked through.

6 Put the pasta, creamy sauce and cooked veg mixture into a large ovenproof baking dish about 32cm x 22cm. Mix together, then level out the surface. In a separate bowl mix all the topping ingredients together and scatter over the pasta bake. Pop into the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Recipe from The Happy Health Plan, by David and Stephen Flynn, published by Penguin Life. thehappypear.ie