This is a perfect midweek meal for all the family. It is fast, wholesome and totally morish. Don’t be put off by the few elements in preparing the dish – the first time you make it, it might seem a like a bit of work but second time around you will fly through it. What most people want midweek is minimal time at the chopping board and really all the knife work required is in dividing the broccoli into florets and dicing your chicken. If your butcher is decent, don’t be shy in asking them nicely to dice it for you. If they won’t, find another butcher!
So to begin, pre-heat your oven to 180c.
Ingredients – to serve 4 people
- 300g pasta (I like to use bowties or pasta shells. Go wholewheat for an extra healthy dish.)
- 4 free-range chicken breasts
- One large head of broccoli
- 150ml full fat milk
- 150ml water
- 100g of mature white cheddar cheese
- A little roux for thickening the sauce (about the size of a walnut )
Cook your pasta in boiling salted water as per the instructions on the packet, ensuring to leave it al dente. There is more cooking time in the oven so you don’t want to overdo it. Run it under cold water once cooked to prevent any overcooking.
The same logic follows here. Cook your small florets in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until tender but a slight bite is preferable. Again run under cold water to stop the cooking process. A top tip is to leave the lid off the broccoli when cooking so as to retain the bright green colour!
Season the diced chicken and fry on a hot pan in a little olive or sunflower oil until cooked through. This should only take about 5 minutes.
The Cheesy Sauce
Slowly bring the stock and the milk to a gentle boil. Once simmering, grate or stir in your roux and continue to stir until the sauce thickens (about 5 minutes). Add your grated cheddar.
Assembly and Bake!
Mix the Broccoli, chicken and pasta in a large bowl and pour into your casserole dish. Pour over your cheesy sauce and pop into your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes. If you want a little crispier top, turn on the grill at the end of cooking, scatter a little more cheese and place under for a couple of minutes. Ready to serve! Yummy with a plain green salad. Let me know if you make it!