Tuesday, June 19, 2012

the joy of a good pasta bake

My guys have never been that keen on pasta bake - which, if I am completely honest, has always kind of annoyed me. It just seems like the perfect kind of easy-throw-it-in-a-dish-bake-it-for-a-while-meal (ie: the sort of thing that I can sort out at some point during the day while working from home, but before the after school run around, that can then happily be put in the oven during home-work zone).

But a'ha!! You may have noticed on my last meal planning post, pasta bake was on the list. Lovely-sister-in-law has struck on a recipe that my boys love and it is now part of the rotation and is all the things I thought a good pasta bake would be (see above sentence!).

The recipe originally came from a Donna Hay Kids magazine and goes like this:

Squiggly Pasta Bake by Donna Hay (via Lovely-sister-in-law).

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
400g beef mince
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 x 400g cans whole tomatoes
sea salt and cracked black pepper
300g cooked spaghetti, warmed
1/2 cup pouring cream 125ml
2 cups grated cheddar
3 cups grated mozzarella

Heat the oil in a non stick fry pan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened.  Add the garlic and beef and cook, breaking up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add the paste and tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180c. Combine pasta, cream and cheddar.  Place half the pasta in a 3.5litre capacity baking dish.  Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and half the beef mix.  Repeat with remaining pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining beef.  Top with remaining mozzarella and bake for 25mins or until golden brown.  Stand for 10 mins before serving. Serves 4-6

You can make the pasta bake with just about any pasta - the spaghetti is great (and is where this recipe gets it's name, from all the squiggy pasta heaped in the pan), but I recently used this pasta, which had the added benefit of when cooked, looking like large witchetty grubs - which caused much mirth among the boys :)