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Cheesy pasta with leeks and fennel (v)


Serves 4 as a main course


The anchovies and prosciutto can be omitted for vegetarians, though you will probably want to make up for the missing flavour with a little grated parmesan (or vegetarian cheese, for the strict).


2 leeks, peeled and cut into chunks

2 bulbs of fennel, outer layers removed, cut into chunks

2 red onions, peeled, quartered or cut into wedges if very large

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

a few sprigs of thyme

olive oil

salt and pepper

30g prosciutto, Serrano ham, or similar (3 thin slices)

2 anchovies

2 cloves of garlic

a generous bunch of basil, leaves only

250g short, tubular pasta (e.g. penne)

150g soft washed-rind cheese (e.g. taleggio, munster), cut into small pieces.

3 tbsp mascapone


Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ gas 6. Put the vegetables into a roasting tin, toss with olive oil, scatter over the thyme sprigs and season. Roast for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and slightly browned at the edges.


Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente in boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions. Drain and rinse quickly with cold water, to remove excess starch. (This will stop your finished dish becoming claggy.)


Finely chop the prosciutto, garlic, anchovies and basil and mix with a few glugs of olive oil until you have a mixture that looks like a rough-textured pesto. You can do this in a food processor if you prefer.


Mix together the pasta, the roasted vegetables and the basil mixture, along with the pieces of cheese and mascarpone. Return to the roasting tin (or other ovenproof dish), grind over some more black pepper and bake for a further 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Any leftovers are good eaten cold for lunch the following day.


Photo by Kristi Korotash


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