Crispy thyme roasted leek and mushroom pasta bake

On my second day back at work for 2023, I scheduled for admin, therefore I worked from home.

I decided that I might tackle another tray bake for our lunch. The day before I’d bought some leeks from Tesco, with no particular use or recipe in mind. I just wanted to increase a little variety in the vegetable section in our home. Later, I thought it might be nice to pick an easy recipe from my roasting tin cookbook where I could use these leeks. It did not take long to find a recipe using pasta, mushrooms, thyme and leeks.

I used the thyme from what was left of my little herb garden. The whole garden and my herb garden included has been decimated by the frost, snow and lack of care from ourselves. Somehow the thyme and rosemary survived while everything else…died.

I popped out to Tesco to buy Panko breadcrumbs. I don’t remember buying or using them before and therefore in the middle the of the ‘ingredients’ aisle, I checked Google to find out the difference between these and ‘normal’ breadcrumbs. It turns out Panko are made from a special type of crustless white bread, producing a larger, crispier, lighter crumb. Well that privilege wasn’t for me as I couldn’t find them on the shelf. I left with a container of Paxo natural breadcrumbs.

I decided that I didn’t really want to use the linguine recommended in the original in recipe. Instead, I rather liked the idea of pasta shells (conchiglie) scooping up the cream and melted cheese. I bought a packet of De Cecco conchiglie rigate (discounted with my Tesco Clubcard 😳).

Finally all the ingredients assembled, I put it all together just before my timetabled lunch break. It was quite simple to construct.

And even easier to deconstruct when on our plates!


200g conchiglie

2 large leeks cut into half centimetre half moons

 300ml of creme fraiche

250g chestnut mushrooms roughly sliced

1 tablespoon of olive oil plus more to bake

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only

 75g cheddar cheese grated

100g of Paxo natural bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220c/ gas 7.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, sliced leeks and mushrooms and grate the cheese. Drop the leeks in with the pasta water for the last minute of cooking then drain well.

Take the pasta and leeks into a roasting tin or and stir through the creme fraiche, olive oil, seasalt and half the thyme leaves. Top with the sliced mushrooms and the remaining tyme, followed by the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs.

Drizzle over a little more olive oil, then transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is Golden Brown and crisp. Serve hot, with a green salad if you like.

Reference: The Quick Roasting Tin, Rukmini Iyer, page

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