Cheese & spinach penne with walnut crumble

Cheese & spinach penne with walnut crumble

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(12 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 55 mins


Serves 8
A twist on macaroni cheese, with added veg and a crunchy topping of bread and nuts - make in batches and freeze

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freeze unbaked
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal656
  • fat36g
  • saturates17g
  • carbs54g
  • sugars9g
  • fibre3g
  • protein28g
  • salt1.6g
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  • 500g pack penne
  • 2 large leek, sliced



    Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct…

  • 85g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 85g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ready-made English mustard
  • good grating nutmeg
  • 1l milk, plus a bit extra



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 350g pack mature cheddar, grated
  • 4 slices French bread, diced
  • 85g walnut piece
  • 400g bag spinach



    Used in almost every cuisine across the world, spinach is an enormously popular green vegetable…


  1. If you are eating one of the pasta bakes now, heat oven to 190C/170C fan/ gas 5. Boil the pasta with the leeks for 10 mins, then drain.

  2. Meanwhile, put the butter, flour, mustard, nutmeg and milk in a large pan with some seasoning. Gently heat, stirring all the time, until bubbling and thickened, then cook for 2 mins more, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in two-thirds of the cheese. Toss the remaining cheese with the bread and walnuts.

  3. Cook the spinach in the microwave, or pour a kettle of boiling water over it to wilt, then squeeze out the excess water. Stir into the sauce with the pasta, leeks and some seasoning. If necessary, add a little extra milk to loosen. Divide between 2 ovenproof dishes and scatter the bread mixture on top. If eating straight away, bake for 40 mins until golden, or cool to freeze.

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Comments (15)

x-x-x-faerie-x-x-x's picture

This is a beautiful dish! So many gorgeous flavours and I managed to get spinach and leek into my little one's diet as well - bonus!

Meat eaters: I put chicken in ours, diced up 4 breasts and fried for the 10 mins while the pasta was cooking, then added at the same time as the pasta/leek etc - it was wonderful!

I also pulsed the topping to make a breadcrumb type topping before sprinkling and it came out golden and crispy - perfect! This will become a regular for us, so easy to do - very impressed.

rslade19's picture

Tasty but definitely took longer than stated to prepare!

BB-LB's picture

This recipe was delicious but definitely takes longer than stated in the preparation and cooking times stated. Tip: have everything measured ready to go. I added browned bacon lardons to the recipe to give another depth of flavour. Made two large dishes (one to eat and one to freeze). Strangely this recipe improved with freezing and had more depth of flavour (will freeze both batches next time). Served with sundried tomato and garlic bread + green salad.

picklenumber6's picture

A bit of a longwinded process and was moderately content with the final result- it is nice, and the walnut/bread topping definitely add to it but I would suggest chopping up the spinach so it disperses amongst the dish a bit better and also- for meat eaters- I would recommend adding diced bacon before putting into a dish and scattering with bread crumbs.

bailig's picture

It does take longer than the recipe says, but it's worth the time - very tasty. Don't leave out the walnuts, they're the best bit!

akkie09's picture

Love this! It's a great dish to freeze so I have something to eat when I don't have time to cook. I really believe this was one of the reasons we ate less fast food over the last 6 months. :)

huddinhk's picture

It lies! Takes at least 30 minutes longer to prepare than the recipe suggests.

Try adding some feta in the final cheese mix and laying strips of pancetta and roasted peppers on the top, before baking :-)

rachelblatchford's picture

My family didn't enjoy this recipe. It was too bland and felt like there was something missing. I thought it was okay but won't make it again. I think adding blue cheese would have improved it.

katejo's picture

I adapted the quantities slightly as I was just cooking for one. Next time I will leave the bread out but add a few more nuts. I may also replace some of the cheddar with a little blue cheese (perhaps Stilton) and add slightly more mustard to give the sauce more flavour. I used wholewheat pasta and it worked well.

Frantic Flapjack's picture

This was lovely. I think the addition of leeks added to the flavour and the walnuts gave great texture to the topping. One for the binder!

psalm139ismine's picture


tyleri's picture

Used 1/2 mature and 1/2 swiss cheese, because we love the texture of melted swiss cheese. Plus used finely chopped crispy bacon instead of walnuts. Delish :)

jenerationpink's picture

Lovely recipe which all the family enjoyed. I added ham to it to keep the meat-lovers happy.

jenunn's picture

Really pleased with this recipe, much tastier than I thought it might be. Liked the addition of walnut pieces to the crumble, gave it an interesting texture too. Saved a portion for my mother-in-law, who also loved it.

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