Home > Recipe Madness > Feeding the Frozen Few: Penne a’ la Arctic

Feeding the Frozen Few: Penne a’ la Arctic

Penne a'la Arctic

A lovely crunchy cheesy topping blankets this delicious, unctuous winter pasta meal.

In case no one noticed, here in the United Kingdom, it is winter.  This means that is is somewhat cooler than in summer. In fact, today, my car told me that it was 3 degrees below freezing. And there is this white stuff on the ground and occasionally in the sky. It is bloody freezing. Various people who know nothing about these things tell me this is all down to climate change. Whatever. I’m a sceptic.

Because of the snow on the ground, I have been a busy little soul, having been appointed Snow Escort in Chief to help take my daughter (the lovely but lame one) to the station, and to retrieve her therefrom after she has finished earning me some money.  The snow is compacted into ice and because all the gourmands in our area have eaten all the rock salt, this situation seems likely to continue.

This ice is very slippery and my lovely but lame daughter’s knees cannot be relied upon to deliver safe, normal perambulation. As it is, her dodgy knee being much weaker than her good knee, forces her to walk only in small, tight circles.  With much trainining, we have developed a method where she can get to almost anywhere walking in spirals. She is used to the odd looks she gets. Soon, our carpenter friend will be repairing her knee using wire, some bicycle tubing and “a beautiful piece of rosewood” he has in his offcuts bin.

Anyway, because it takes so long for my lovely but lame daughter to get anywhere and because she has to spend so long spiralling along the pavement (a 100 yard walk to the station for you or me is well, 100 yards. For my poor daughter, the spiraling makes it about 600 yards), she gets cold. So do I. The life of a Snow Escort in Chief is a cold one. Because we are both cold and because my lovely supervisor, Anna is also cold when she comes in from work, we need a hot bowl of cosiness to help us all thaw out.

This recipe is another dead simple one that you can adapt to suit what’s in your cupboard.  Essentially, it is Macaroni Cheese with bits of tomato, onion and peas in it. But I used Penne, because that’s what was in the cupboard.


  • Penne pasta (or macaroni or whatever short pasta you have available)
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped spring onions
  • A cupful of frozen peas
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 sliced tomatoes
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • A clove of garlic, chopped
  • A cupful of breadcrumbs (make toast, crumble it)
  • Some grated cheddar cheese
  • A chopped red chilli
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • A spoonful of Italian Herb Seasoning
  • Cayenne pepper
  • A heaped tablespoon of flour
Penne Cheese before it gets its topping

Penne a'la Arctic before it gets its tomato, cheese breadcrumb topping

Method (for the cheese sauce)

  • Melt your lump of butter in a pan (add a little olive oil if you like)
  • As soon as the butter is melted, add the flour
  • mix with the butter until you have a thick paste or to be cheffy, a “roux”
  • Add a good slug of milk – two mugs worth
  • Bring to the boil
  • Add a decent amount of grated cheese
  • Stir. Always stir. Don’t let the sauce stick to the pan
  • When the sauce is thick so that it has slowly collapsing “peaks” when you take out the spoon, set it aside.
Ready for the oven

All that's left to do is sling it under a hot grill (not too close - middle shelf of the oven) for 10-15 minutes

Method (assembly)

  • Drain and rinse your cooked pasta
  • Stir in your cheese sauce
  • Add your chopped tomatoes
  • Add your frozen peas
  • Add your chopped onions
  • Add your Italian Herb seasoning
  • Add the chopped garlic
  • Add everything except the sliced tomatoes and the breadcrumbs
  • Mix it all together
  • Place in an oven-proof pan or dish of some sorts
  • Place the sliced tomatoes on top
  • Grate some cheese over the tomatoes. Be generous
  • Sprinkle some chopped spring onions over the cheese
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top
  • Place on the middle shelf of the oven and grill for 10 – 15 minutes.
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