Chicken and Pasta Bake with Grilled Eggplant


We’ve only just ushered in autumn but it feels as if winter will be upon us sooner than expected. This calls for comfort food to warm the soul and chase those chills away. Rummaging through my fridge for supplies bought a week prior, I’ve got eggplant, chicken breast fillets and brocolli so this calls for a chicken and pasta bake. I have a stock of Fusilli pasta in the pantry and a foray into my garden rewarded me with sprigs of basil, oregano and parsley.

There was minimal salt in this dish but the flavour was surprisingly great! For the chicken breast fillets, they were merely steamed and then roughly shredded. For the eggplant slices, I infused some extra virgin olive oil with fresh garlic and brushed the slices with the oil before grilling it on our rarely used Russell Hobbs grill, griddle and sandwich press. I forgot to season the slices with salt but the grilling must have sealed in the flavour as the eggplant tasted great on its own with a hint of garlic. Next, I blanched and refreshed some broccolli florets and boiled the pasta. For the sauce, I made a basic béchamel sauce by thickening milk gradually with a white roux, which is equal quantites of butter and flour cooked over low heat, and then seasoned with fresh cracked pepper, salt and nutmeg. I also sweated some onions with a little knob of butter and added it to the sauce. The sauce is then poured onto the assembled ingredients including the garden herbs, topped with a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese and baked in the oven for 30 minutes until the melted cheese has turned golden brown.

This was a very satisfying meal. Pasta bakes are very versatile and I do love tomato based sauces as well; ahhh..I envision tuna, black olives, capers and rigatoni bakes (alla puttanesca) in the near future or ricotta stuffed cannelloni in roasted tomato and basil passata sprinkled with toasted pinenuts. Drool……

 the assembled ingredients



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