Hello there, thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I hope it inspires you to make this delicious, very economical, Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – covered in a scrummy Cheese Sauce!
I’m sorry that I haven’t posted anything for a few days, unfortunately my body has been very uncooperative and I’ve been struggling with a lot of pain. Not looking for sympathy, just explaining.
Anyhow this morning, once I was up and dressed I was determined to make the Christmas cakes ( I know this blog is about the Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – but I have to tell you the whole story, so bare with please??!!). One cake for us and a smaller cake for my lovely hubby’s Ma and Pa. They love Christmas cake like no other people I have ever met and since I love them and making cakes I thought I’d bake them a cake as well!
Once the cakes were happily baking away in the oven I turned my attention to dinner. I happened to have 8 rashers of streaky bacon in the fridge and thought ‘You know what, I’ll make Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake’. Not only that, but as I have tended to be a bit lazy with my savoury recipes, I also made a note of exactly what I used and took some photos to show you how to make it yourself!!
This recipe is for 6 people!
Recipe: Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake
For the bacon and tomato sauce you will need –
1tbsp Olive oil
8 x rashers streaky bacon (smoked or not the choice is yours) – any rind removed
1 Large White Onion
2 Sticks of Celery
1 Green Pepper
6 – 8 Chestnut or Button Mushrooms
3 Bulbs of Garlic
2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes and their juice
1tbsp Tomato puree
1tsp Mixed Dry Herbs
1/2tsp Sea Salt (1/4tsp free flowing salt)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg – freshly grated
1/2tsp Black Pepper – freshly ground
For the Cheese Sauce :
2tbsp Unsalted Butter
2tbsp Plain White Flour
500ml/1.25 pints Whole Milk
175g/6oz Strong Cheddar
1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
In a large saute pan (or shallow casserole dish) melt the Olive oil and Butter together over a medium heat. Add the finely chopped Onion and Saute until translucent (approx 5-8 mins). Add in the Bacon – I usually snip this into approx 1/2″ pieces, directly into the pan, however you can chip up the Bacon with a knife and then add it.
Let the bacon sizzle until it had rendered out some of it’s fat, but not so much that it goes crispy. Add in the Celery and Carrot ( which have both been finely chopped and cook for another 5 mins.
After 5 mins add in the finely chopped Green Pepper and the Mushroom ( I slice the mushrooms fairly thinly, then cut the slices in half – it just looks nice in the dish!). Add the crushed (or finely chopped) garlic and continue cooking for another 5-10 mins, until all the vegetables are slightly softened.
Once the vegetables have started to soften add the tinned, chopped tomatoes. Rinse each tin out with cold water (fill the tin to just over half with water and swish the tin to dilute any tomato juice left, into the water) and add the tomato purée. Add the seasonings next: salt, pepper, sugar, nutmeg and mixed herbs. The sugar balances out the tartness of tinned tomatoes and makes a very real difference to the finished dish.
The Cheese Sauce:
Melt 2tbsp butter on a medium heat in a saucepan. Once melted add 2tbsp of plain white flour and mix thoroughly, lowering the heat very slightly.
This flour/butter mixture is now called a roux. Now gradually add (50ml at a time at the beginning) whole milk to the flour/butter mixture, stirring constantly. As the milk warms it will gradually become incorporated into the flour/butter. In the beginning, for the first few milk additions, the mixture will be very thick and stiff to stir. If you find the milk is not incorporating into the mixture, or it is very lumpy, it’s fine to switch to a whisk, this will ensure a beautiful, lump free, smooth sauce. Add 450-500ml of milk until your sauce has the consistency similar to custard.
Add a pinch of salt, a good grinding of black pepper, 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg and mix thoroughly. Off of the heat add a good 2 handfuls (4-6oz) of grated mature cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
I have used penne rigate pasta for this dish. Basically pasta tubes, cut on a slant with ridges in the outside! I like penne rigate as it holds firm, the sauce not only goes into the pasta tubes, but also the sauce clings to the outside ridges of the pasta. I cooked about 3/4 of a 500g packet (350g if my maths is correct??).
I said earlier, this is such an economical dish – 8 bacon rashers, bits of veg you have in the fridge, a couple of handfuls of mature cheddar and not even a whole packet of pasta!! Not only that but it tastes fab and is easily transportable, so ideal to give individual portions to friends/family or pop in the freezer!!
Once the pasta is almost cooked (not quite al dente) drain and add to the bacon sauce.
Mix the sauce and pasta together. If serving a separate portion to give away, remove a generous portion of the pasta/bacon mix, ensuring you get a good mix of the sauce, bacon, veg and of course pasta.
Spread the rest of the bacon pasta evenly into an ovenproof container. Tap the individual portions to settle the pasta and remove any air bubbles.
Cover your pasta dishes with a good dollop of the cheese sauce. For added prettiness (and because the cheese sauce didn’t reach the edges!!) I sliced ripe, ruby red tomatoes and placed them around the outside edge of the pasta.
So a super tasty, super economical meal to eat and share!
For a bubbly,scrumptious meal, ready for the table: Cook the large Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake at 180C for an hour until thoroughly heated through, 1/2 hour at the same temp for the individual portion.
An amazingly tasty, versatile dish that’s easy on your wallet and tasty on your tongue.
Have fun, feasting and enjoy sharing your meal!!