This warming dish appeals to children and adults alike, so it makes an ideal family meal. It is a good example of a dish in which vegetables, pasta and breadcrumbs extend a modest portion of a protein food, which means the dish is low in fat too. Serve with a salad.
2 carrots, sliced
400 g leeks, white part only, sliced
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable or chicken stock
300 ml white wine or additional stock
300 g cavatelli (fluted pasta shells) or other shapes such as fusilli (spirals)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
400 g chicken breast fillet, skinned, then cut into thin strips
300 ml low–fat milk
⅓ cup (50 g) plain flour
salt and pepper
⅔ cup (55 g) fine fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated cheddar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Place the carrots and leeks in a saucepan.
Add the stock and the wine, if using, and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender but not soft.
Drain the vegetables, reserving the stock.
Place the vegetables in a large ovenproof dish.
Return the stock to the pan and boil it until it is reduced by half, to about 300 ml.
Set aside to cool.
Cook the pasta in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
Drain well and add to the vegetables; mix together.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Heat the oil in a saucepan.
Add the chicken and cook, stirring, for 5–10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and mix it with the pasta and vegetables.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the milk and cooled stock.
Whisking constantly, sprinkle the flour into the liquid.
Return the pan to the heat and bring the sauce to the boil, still whisking.
Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 3 minutes, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thick and smooth.
Add seasoning to taste.
Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture, coating it evenly.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley, and sprinkle this evenly over the top.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until crisp and golden.
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