Cook: Cheesy Pasta Bake

Cook: Cheesy Pasta Bake

Ever had a good pasta bake? Like a really great one? I can’t say I have. Like, honestly, they’re mostly pretty terrible. But for some reason, I recently had a mega craving for pasta bake so I got on Google and started researching. I was going to find a great pasta bake and it would satisfy my cravings and fill my fridge with leftovers.

pastabake3

Lucky for me, Yummly had the perfect recipe and it made enough for eight serves! Eight massive, generous, perfect leftover-sized serves. (Actually, I’ll be honest, I think I got nine serves out of this, but if you’re my housemate R, you’ll probably only get three…).

The best part of this recipe is the bocconcini balls I dotted throughout the pasta. Coming across a gooey ball of cheese made this the perfect comfort food on a cold night, which we still seem to still be burdened with, despite the glorious sunny days.

Yeah, bocconcini balls are a bit of a splurge but if you can get them on special at the supermarket like I did, they are absolutely worth the addition. Plus, all the other ingredients are dirt cheap, so I definitely think you can swing it.

This recipe freezes excellently. After dinner, it spent overnight in the fridge and then I sliced up the leftovers, wrapped them up and popped them away for future meals. Then, 15-20 minutes in the oven at 200C had them ready for future dinners.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of large pasta shells
  • 6-8 slices of salami, prosciutto or pancetta, diced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cans tinned tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • (Optional: 1 cup red wine)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 8 (or more) bocconcini balls (or one ball of mozzarella, pulled apart)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C
  2. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil, season with salt and add the pasta, cook according to packet instructions, drain
  3. In a frying pan, add the cured meat and fry off until crispy. Remove, leaving any fat behind. Add a splash of olive oil ad add the onions and garlic, sautee until soft
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to a boil (add red wine here if using and cook off). Add the tomato paste, stir and reduce to a simmer
  5. Stir the sauce, the parsley, the meat and 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar into the pasta, season with salt and pepper and then the whole thing pour into a baking dish
  6. Stud the pasta with the bocconcini balls (I actually ended up cutting these in half) and top with the rest of the cheddar and the parmesan
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until it’s bubbling and golden and you just gotta get it in your belly