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Macaroni and Prawn (Shrimp) Bake

ingredients

serves 4
350 g (12 oz) short pasta, such as short-cut macaroni
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
90 g (3 oz) 6 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
2 small fennel bulbs, sliced thinly, leaves reserved
175 g (6 oz) mushrooms, sliced thinly
175 g (6 oz) shelled prawns (shrimp)
60 g (2 oz) 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne
Bechamel Sauce (see below)

method

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When almost tender, drain the pasta in a colander, return to the pan and dot with 30g/l oz/2 tablespoons of the butter. Shake the pan well, cover and keep warm.

2. Melt the remaining butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the fennel for 3 - 4 minutes, until it begins to soften. Stir in the mushrooms and fry for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the prawns (shrimp), remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

3. Make the bechamel sauce and add the cayenne. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the reserved vegetables, prawns (shrimp) and the pasta.

4. Grease a round, shallow baking dish. Pour in the pasta mixture and spread evenly. Sprinkle on the Parmesan, and arrange the tomato slices in a ring around the edge of the dish. Brush the tomato with olive oil and sprinkle on the dried oregano.

5. Bake in the preheated oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot.

bechamel sauce

300 ml (1/2 pint)1 1/4 cups milk
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
1 small onion
60 g (2 oz) 1/4 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
45 g (1 1/2 oz) 6 tbsp flour
300 ml (1/2 pint) 1 1/4 cups single (light) cream
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

1. Pour the milk into a small pan and add the bay leaves. Press the cloves into the onion, add to the pan and bring the milk to the boil. Remove from the heat and set it aside to cool.

2. Strain the milk into a jug and rinse the pan. Melt the butter in the pan and stir in the flour. Stir for 1 minute, then gradually pour on the milk, stirring constantly.

3. Cook the sauce for 3 minutes, then pour on the cream and bring it to the boil Remove from the heat and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

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