A topping lightened with whisked eggwhites and finished with a sprinkling of parmesan can make a simple pasta and vegetable bake very special. You can use a wide variety of vegetables with the pasta in this easy version of a soufflé. Serve with a salad of curly endive and watercress.
30 g dried porcini mushrooms
150 ml boiling water
100 g small pasta shapes, such as ditali (thimbles) or conchiglie (shells)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup (35 g) plain flour
1 cup (250 ml) low–fat milk
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 can corn, about 340 g, drained
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and pour in the boiling water.
Cover and leave to soak for 15 minutes.
While the mushrooms are soaking, cook the pasta in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
Drain the pasta well.
Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and chop them finely.
Heat the oil in a heavy–based saucepan and fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms for 4 minutes or until the onion is softened but not browned.
Sprinkle over the flour and stir in well, then gradually pour in the milk, stirring.
Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, and simmer until thickened.
Add seasoning to taste.
Pour half the sauce into a bowl.
Stir in the egg yolks and set aside.
Add the reserved mushroom liquid to the sauce left in the pan, then stir in the cooked pasta, parsley and corn.
Turn this mixture into a greased 1.5 litre ovenproof dish.
Whisk the eggwhites until they stand in stiff peaks.
Stir 2 spoonfuls of the whisked whites into the sauce in the bowl to lighten it, then, using a large metal spoon, carefully fold in the remaining whites.
Spoon the eggwhite mixture over the pasta mixture and spread it out gently to the edge of the dish.
Sprinkle with the parmesan and bake for 25 minutes or until puffed up and golden.
Serve immediately, before the souffléed topping collapses.
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