Cheese & Pesto Bake
When you say the word Australia, most people think sun and beaches but OMG it is so cold today and my mind, body and soul needs some serious comfort food. Today's recipe is a variation of a recipe from Taste Magazine. It's super easy and fast and you'll most likely already have these ingredients around the home and if you don't you can easily substitute ingredients and still have a fabulous meal!
This recipe uses risoni, which is a type of pasta that looks like rice but if you don't have risoni at home, simply use some macaroni, shell pasta or even some left over cooked rice and it will still taste delish
For a vegetarian option just leave off the bacon or chorizo and as this is quite a rich dish a light, crisp salad would compliment this dish really nicely
YOU WILL NEED
300g | 11 ounces risoni pasta
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
1 onion diced
3 cloves of garlic finely grated, chopped or crushed
1 tablespoon of butter
350g | 12 ounces roughly sliced mushrooms (I just use the standard brown or white button mushrooms)
300ml | 10 ounces light cream
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel
80g | 3 ounces baby spinach leaves
1-2 green chillies finely chopped
2/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil pesto (the jar variety is fine in a pinch)
150g | 5 ounces fresh mozzarella, roughly sliced
1/2 cup bacon or chorizo chopped and fried until cooked (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley (optional but adds freshness)
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
Cook the risoni in a large saucepan of salted water for approximately 8 minutes (or according to packet instructions), drain and set aside.
Place a large non-stick pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and the chopped onions and cook until softened, add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. When done transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add half the butter and half a tablespoon of oil to the pan you just emptied and cook half the mushrooms until slightly browned, this will take a few minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
Place all the mushrooms, onion mixture and risoni back into the pan and add the light cream, lemon, spinach, chilli, 1/2 the Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of the pesto, gently combine and continue to heat through for a couple of minutes.
Even out your mixture in the pan and add the remaining Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
Place under the grill on high heat and allow the cheese to melt and slightly darken.
Remove from the grill and top with crispy cooked and chopped bacon/chorizo and chopped Italian parsley, season to taste and serve immediately.
MAKES FOUR HEARTY SERVES