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Macaroni and Seafood

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Serves: 4
Ingredients:

350g / 12 oz dried short-cut macaroni
6 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
175g / 6 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
175g / 6 oz cooked peeled prawns
pinch of cayenne pepper
300ml / 10 fl oz bechamel sauce (see below)
55g / 2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 large tomatoes, sliced
olive oil, for brushing
1 tsp dried oregano

To the bechamel sauce
300ml / 10 fl oz milk
1 slice of onion
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
1 blade of mace
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp plain flour
salt and pepper

Method:

To make the bechamel sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan and add the onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and mace. Heat to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat, cover, infuse for 10 minutes and strain. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan. Sprinkle in the flour and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk, then bring to the boil and cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Season to taste.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, return to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain and return to the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pasta, cover, shake the pan and keep warm.

Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan. Add the fennel and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the prawns, then remove the pan from the heat. Stir the cayenne pepper into the bechamel sauce and add the prawn mixture and pasta.

Grease a large oven proof dish with butter, then pour the mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and arrange the tomato slices in a ring around the edge. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle over the oregano. Bake in a preheated oven, 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4, for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.


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