I almost feel patronising to be blogging a recipe for pasta bake because it is so simple but as with most recipes that require little effort and let ingredients speak for themselves, this dish is packed full of flavour! Pasta bake can be whatever you want it to be from whatever you have but always leaves you satisfied. It is cheap, healthy, comforting, tasty and great as leftovers too.
One rule I always follow for a good pasta bake is – TOP WITH LOADS OF CHEESE! And I mean loads, to the point where you think ‘I’ve put too much cheese on that pasta bake’ then maybe a bit more. Baked in the oven until melting, bubbly and golden brown, it gives a wonderful luxurious, melting finish to the vegetable pasta mix. Not to mention the bits that go crunchy round the edge – ooo yeah!
What you put in is really up to you. You can make a bolognaise style sauce, white sauce, spinach and ricotta, squash puree, spicy bean, bacon, meatballs, go wild! Add vegetables, pasta of your choice, CHEESE, bake, enjoy.
- 50g whole wheat pasta (I used fusilli)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 small courgette, chopped
- 50g button chestnut mushrooms
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 can cherry tomatoes
- 100g mascarpone
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1-2 tsp dried herbs (I used basil and oregano)
- Extra mature cheddar cheese, grated
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Cook the pasta for a minute less than the pack instructs. Reserve some of the pasta water to use in the sauce. Drain and set aside.
- For the sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the onions and garlic and fry for 5-6 minutes until softened and golden.
- Add the courgette, peppers and mushrooms and continue to fry for 5 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add the dried herbs, can of tomatoes and stir in the mascarpone. Reduce the heat to low and combine everything well. Season to taste and let the sauce simmer gently for a few minutes. Mix the pasta into the vegetable sauce and a dash of pasta water if the sauce is really thick. It should be slightly loose as it will thicken a bit in the oven.
- Transfer the pasta and sauce to an oven-proof baking dish and top very generously with cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden and the dish is piping hot.
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes then serve with salad and garlic bread.