I have these days. Days that feel like they just won’t end. Days that my to-do list is a mile long, the kids have a full schedule and I can’t afford for anything to go wrong and then of course, something does. The car’s battery will be dead or I’ll fall and hurt my ankle or I’ll the internet will be down. All things you have absolutely no control of but just screws your day up so much. Don’t you just hate those days? I’ve had a few of these days lately and on it’s on these days that I need comfort. And for me, baked pasta has got to be up there with some of my favourite comfort foods.
A few days ago, I decided to make this version because I had a few mushrooms in the fridge and I needed the comforting properties of pasta. I made a white sauce flavoured with fresh thyme, a little mustard and pecorino cheese and mixed in the fried mushrooms. I mixed in the cooked pasta and then layered it with lots of mozzarella. The end result was a delicious, earthy and rich dish that made for a seriously good dinner. And the leftovers weren’t bad the next day either! If you’d like to try a more Summer Mac & Cheese recipe, go check out my Caprese Mac and Cheese. So much deliciousness!
for the mushrooms
- 500 g mushrooms of your choice roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
for the sauce
- 100 g butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 500 ml-750ml milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup Pecorino grated
- salt & pepper to taste
- 500 g pasta of your choice cooked (I used spiral macaroni)
- 150 g mozzarella grated
- Pre-heat the oven to 200ºc,
- Heat a large saucepan over high heat then fry the mushrooms in a splash of oil with the garlic.
- When the mushrooms are cooked, remove from the pan (along with any of their juices) and set aside.
- In the same pot, melt the butter and saute the thyme for 30 seconds then whisk in the flour.
- Slowly whisk in the liquid from the mushrooms and the milk until the sauce is smooth. Allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes until it's thick and any flouriness has cooked off. You might not need all the milk but different flours absorb liquid differently.
- Stir in the mustard, Pecorino and seasoning.
- Add the mushrooms and cooked pasta and stir well.
- Layer the pasta and mushrooms with the grated mozzarella in an oven-proof casserole dish.
- Place in the oven and allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes then serve.