A friend called me last night to get some tips on what to cook for friends on Saturday night. "Easy but delicious ", was the brief. Isn't that what everybocy always wants when it comes to having friends over. In the past i have had notions of cordon bleu cookery for dinner guests only to throw the tea towel at them when they arrive, frustrated by a curdling bechemel. Who wants to be s sweaty, seething host? As I once read, if you are unsure of what to cook then lots of good red wine and a chocolate desert will always be a winner.
The recipe I suggest id from my own archives. It's easy, luxurious and even kids eat it. After making this for my blog yesterday my nine year old, a self-confessed vegaphobic, tucked in with gusto. I wondered should I tell him he's been eating spinach for years. I took the risk and he shrugged his shoulders and kept munching. The dish has that great combination of crunchiness on the top and runny creaminess in the middle, with healthy spinach to boot. Quantities are not exact but close.
Serves 4 hungry adults
Spinach and Gorgonzola Pasta Bake ( al forno for your guests!)
You will need:
500g pasta, I like M&S Papardelle or Fiorelli, don't use a thick one, it won't be as nice
2 x 250g tubs creme fraiche
400g gongonzola cheese
400g ready fresh spinach/baby spinach
4 tblsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ Fan 160/ gas 4
2. Cook the pasta in lots of boiling salted water until al dente. In the meantime wash the spinach and stuff it into a pot. Cook it over a medium heat with just the water clinging to the leaves, keep and eye on it, two or three minutes is enough, remove when it is wilted.
3. Drain the pasta and tip it back into its cooking pot. Drain the spinach and squeeze out any excess water, chop it roughly and add to the pasta, stir to combine.
4.Roughly chop the gongonzola and add to the pot with the contents of both tubs of creme fraiche. Stir this all around to combine it well, it will be lovely and runny. Season with a little salt and pepper ( the cheese is salty so take it easy).Tip the whole lot into a 20x30cm gratin dish and sprinkle with the parmesan.
5. At this stage you can refrigerate the dish until you are ready to bake it later. So if you don't want a dirty kitchen make it in the morning and wash up the pots.
6. Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins until the top is golden brown and the dish is bubbling nicely.
Serve immediatley with a simple salad of sliced tomatoes and basil, drizzled with your best balsamic and olive oil and a little saalt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Enjoy watching your friends fall in love with you!