- 1.5l (48fl oz) milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 400g (13oz) penne
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 8-10 leaves chopped spinach
- 60g (2oz) butter
- 4tbsp plain flour
- 250g (8oz) grated cheddar
- 50g (1¾oz) grated parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 60g (2oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- Heat the oven to 190°C (gas mark 5). Place the milk and bay leaf in a large saucepan over a low heat and bring to just under the boil. Remove and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse. Discard the bay leaf.
- Cook the penne in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (check the cooking time on the packet). Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.
- Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and chopped spinach and cook for around 5 minutes, or until the spinach has reduced in size and is soft. Squeeze out any moisture.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan, then sprinkle in the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 1-2 minutes until the flour has browned slightly. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly until there are no lumps. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring for 3-4 minutes until thickened.
- Add the cheddar and half of the parmesan. Pour the white sauce over the pasta, then add the spinach and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the mixture into a large, shallow, ovenproof dish and scatter with the remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until heated through so that the topping is golden.
Chop four rashers of streaky bacon, mix with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top before baking for a finishing touch.