Some days don’t go as planned; some days feel as if some mischievous imp is playing havoc with your plans. I was supposed to go to book group tonight to discuss planning for the next 3 months but after a day of delayed work delivery, dying printer (which resulted in having to visit a PC World Megastore – not a happy experience but a new printer purchased) and horrendous traffic jams, I was after home comfort.
The evenings are drawing in fast; it’s dark by 7pm. It’s not particularly cold for the time of year but I felt comfort food this evening needed to be hot and softly soothing. The simplest solution was a pasta bake: two packets of filled tortellini lay in the freezer; there are always tins of tomatoes in my cupboard, milk in the fridge, a large lump of Parmesan to hand. I rummaged in the veg box of the fridge and decided to add shallot, red pepper, mushroom and celery to the tomato sauce.
The tortellini needed only a couple of minutes in salted boiling water. The tomato sauce was a basic one: a large banana shallot (or small onion) fried in olive oil, a chopped celery stick added with one red romano pepper cut into small pieces.
Once that had softened I added a few mushrooms, sliced, and when they’d softened, I tipped in 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes.
I seasoned with salt, freshly ground black pepper, some dried oregano and a splash of red wine (because I had a bottle open, but not essential). As that bubbled away, I made the béchamel sauce: 70g butter, 70g flour, heated and mixed to a roux, about 500ml of milk slowly added to make a moderately thick sauce. Then seasoned with salt, pepper and a good grating of nutmeg at the end.
I put the cooked pasta in ovenproof dishes then poured the tomato sauce over the top. I made two dishes – one for Lyndsey and me, a smaller one for Jonathan who was delayed at work and would be late. I also put aside one small portion of sauce to pop in the freezer as will make an easy supper for Freddie one evening with some pasta.
I mixed the tomato in lightly then poured the béchamel over the top. I finished it with a good dusting of freshly grated Parmesan and then popped it into a preheated oven at 200C/180 Fan/Gas 6 for about 30 minutes, or until nicely browned.
I love the slightly crispy cheesy topping contrasting with all the soft silkiness inside.
I served a green salad on the side. It was such a simple supper but oh so welcome; a lovely rich taste and soothingly easy to eat.