Penne Pasta Bake with Turkey & Spanish Smoked Paprika Bechamel Sauce

Photo of Pasta Bake by Mario

Pasta time! But this week it’s something a little different – It’s pasta bake.

Southern Italians like to call pasta bake a Piatto Unico, which means one course meal, and that’s exactly what pasta bake is about! You get all you need in one dish – proteins, carbs and veggies.

My pasta bake is a very simple dish, and when you cut into it, you’ll reveal those beautiful layers of green veg, succulent meat, tender pasta and flavoured Bechamel sauce – it’s so moreish 🙂

One of the vegetables I’m using in my recipe is spinach. Spinach is packed with vitamins A, B and C, among others. It is also a very good source of Iron and Magnesium. So my Pasta Bake is not only delicious, but good for you too!


Penne Pasta Bake with Turkey & Spanish Smoked Paprika Bechamel Sauce


Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: approx. 1 hour

Total time: approx. 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves 4

Recipe by Bill


INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g penne pasta
  • 75 g onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 75 g leek, sliced and washed
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 80 g spinach
  • 100 g peas
  • 250 g Turkey breast, cut into strips (approx. half a centimeter wide and 2 centimeters long)

For Smoked Paprika Bechamel sauce

  • 50 g butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 700 ml milk
  • 2 level tsp Spanish sweet smoked paprika
  • 100 g grated Mozzarella

 

  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil a pan of water seasoned with salt, drop penne pasta in and cook until al dente (approx. 10 minutes). Strain and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, grab a large pan and heat it up on a medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of oil.
  3. Add onion, garlic, leek and sage, cook for a 4 – 5 minutes until soft, then add spinach and peas, and cook for few more minutes (see notes).
  4. When ready, transfer into a baking dish and return the pan to the heat.
  5. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil and cook turkey breast strips until lightly brown and tender (8 – 10 minutes).
  6. Place cooked turkey breast strips on top of the vegetables in the baking dish, then cover the meat with previously cooked penne pasta.
  7. Return the pan to the heat, add butter with bay leaf.
  8. Let the butter melt. When it starts to bubble, add flour and combine together using a whisk (this is called ‘roux’; see notes). Cook it off for a about a minute stirring constantly.
  9. Add milk, 100 ml at a time, keep stirring to combine together. When you finish with milk, add Spanish smoked paprika, bay leaf and Mozzarella and cook it all together for about 5 minutes to infuse the flavours (see notes).
  10. Once ready, pour Bechamel over the pasta in the baking dish, pop it in pre-heated oven, 180 degrees Celsius, for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  11. Take the Pasta Bake out of the oven, serve and enjoy!

NOTES

Photo of Pasta Bake by Mario
  • When cooking vegetables, they may release some moisture, so make sure to cook it for long enough to evaporate the liquid. If there is a lot of it, turn the heat up – that way you will reduce the cooking time and prevent green vegetables from loosing their vibrant colour.
  • When preparing ‘roux’, it is important to cook it off to get rid of raw flavour of the flour (just like when adding flour to thicken your sauces, you have to let it boil for some time for exactly the same reason).
  • Because of the flour and dairy content, it’s important to stir Bechamel all the time to prevent burning at the bottom of the pan.

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