Pork Rigatoni Bake with Spinach

This is one of those dishes with vegetables that are almost hidden. The problem is that they are hidden with a creamy bechamel-style sauce – not so healthy!

I’ve slightly adapted the recipe from BBC Good Food, but it’s a recipe that you could adapt as many times as you like – for example, you could use a different type of meat, a different pasta, or add more vegetables quite easily.

By the way, I promise to find another recipe source soon – but the BBC Good Food website it just so huge!

Ingredients – serves 4:

  • 1 tbsp oil (olive or vegetable)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 400-500g/14-18oz pork mince (ground) – but you could use any mince that you have
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 150ml/5 fl oz red wine
  • 300ml/10 fl oz chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 300g/10oz dried rigatoni pasta (or you could also use penne pasta)
  • 150g/5oz fresh baby spinach
  • 50g/1oz butter
  • 50g/1oz plain (all purpose) flour
  • 600ml/20 fl oz milk
  • 20g/0.5oz grated parmesan cheese
  • 100g/3.5oz grated cheese, such as cheddar or tasty

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
  • Add the pork mince and cook until browned, stirring occasionally to break up any lumps.
  • Add the sliced carrot and dried herbs, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Mix the wine, stock and tomato puree in a large jug, then add to the pan. Stir to combine all the ingredients.

  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan forced/370F.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes, or until tender.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat and (before you drain the pasta) add the spinach to the saucepan. Stir, and when the spinach has wilted, drain well.

  • To make the sauce, put the flour in a small saucepan and add a little milk. Stir to combine, getting as many lumps out as possible.
  • Then put the pan on the heat, add the butter and the remaining milk.
  • Heat the sauce gently, whisking, until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and add the parmesan, then stir until smooth.
  • Get a large ovenproof dish and put half the pasta across the base.
  • Spoon over one third of the bechamel sauce, then carefully pour over the pork mixture.
  • Top with the remaining pasta, then the remaining bechamel sauce.
  • Complete the dish by scattering the grated cheese over the top.

  • Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!

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