In the meantime, though, we have one of my very own brain-childs (brain-children?) to get through. It started with the ingredients for a carbonara, a recent carbonara meal turning me off that particular idea, and a very unenthusiastic teacher who hands round colouring pencils and then doodles dinner suggestions. Aren't my students lucky?
Dinner was great - Tom went back for thirds, claiming that he could just keep eating it (a claim well-proven), and I had it for lunch today, and there's still a serving or two left in the pan. It has creamy pasta, broccoli, bacon, cheese, and some yellow pepper thrown in for a bit of a crunch. I imagine it would make a great family meal, particularly as a way to sneak vegetables to small children. Experiment with it!
Pasta Layer Bake
1 head broccoli
2 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup white wine
400ml chicken stock
Basil and thyme
10 rashers of bacon
1 bell pepper
1 cup of crushed cheese-flavoured crisps or tortilla chips
1/2 cup grated cheese
Boil the pasta. After ten minutes, break the broccoli head into small florets and add it to the pasta dish. Bubble on a low heat until about 90% cooked.
In the meantime, chop your onion and garlic and fry in an oiled pan over a medium flame. Chop the chicken breasts into small bits and add it to the pan, stirring every so often until the chicken is sealed.
Add the white wine to the chicken pan and simmer for a minute, before adding the stock. Allow the sauce to reduce to about 2/3 before adding the cream and heating through. Season with herbs, salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and broccoli quickly and add it to the chicken pan. Stir to coat the pasta, and allow the sauce to reduce a little more (for about five minutes). My sauce was a bit thin, so I removed about a tablespoon of crushed tortilla chips from my cup (for topping) and stirred them in.
Slice your bell pepper in half, and then, keeping the halves separate, into teeny tiny chunks.
Layer half of the pasta mixture into a deep oven dish and lattice four strips of bacon over the top. Sprinkle with half of the bell pepper.
Repeat the layers, using more bacon to cover the top of the bake. Sprinkle with the bell pepper, crushed tortilla chips or crisps, and grated cheese. Bake at 200 degrees (390 Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes and serve.