Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake

Hi, is everyone fed up with the clouds? Yep, me too. And I love Autumn. Yet endless days of rain, with no blue sky occasionally peeking through, well to be honest, it just makes me want to snuggle up with a good film and a big bowl of this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake.

Pinterest sized image of vegetarian pasta bake with descriptive graphics.

 

This dish came about because I was too lazy to get any meat out of the freezer! True our freezer is in our garage, with no internal interconnecting door and it was raining. Are you convinced?! Anyway enough of my laziness, what resulted was an incredibly tasty dish.

Serving the vegetarian pasta bake.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake

Although we are a meat eating family, I do make a little meat go a long way. However, it is very rare that I deliberately leave meat or fish out of a dish. Big mistake!!! No one in our family, or my chief taste tester, missed the meat in this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake. In fact they enjoyed a meat free meal.

I was so pleased. Firstly, I had created a great meal that everyone enjoyed – always my main aim. Secondly, I now have a great vegetarian dish in my repertoire.

Complete untouched vegetarian pasta bake.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake

Since meat is usually the most expensive component in a meal, without compromising flavour, this is a fantastic, meat free, budget friendly dish. Perfect for a mid week meal. In fact why not double up on the ingredients and make this for a new mum, family or friends returning from holiday, or simply to freeze for up to 3 months. Because this is meat free, more people can enjoy this dish.

Recipe : Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake Serves 6 people generously

1tbsp Olive Oil – I use Filippo Berio

1 x Leek

1 x Celery Stick finely diced

2 x Large Carrots finely diced

6-8 Mushrooms White Button or Chestnut sliced thinly

3 Cloves of Garlic – crushed

4 x 400g Cans Chopped Tomatoes

1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg

1tsp Dried Mixed Herbs

Salt and Pepper to taste

500g/1lb Dried Pasta – I used Penne

Cheese Sauce see Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – Cheese Sauce

50g/2oz Finely Grated Cheese for topping –  I use  Wyke Farms mature cheddar (both in the sauce and to top)

Note : If making this dish for vegetarians, ensure you use vegetarian cheese.

Method : Making The Pasta Bake 

First of all, cut the very dark green top and root from the leek. Slice the leek in half, lengthways and rinse thoroughly under a cold running tap. This ensures any sand or dirt trapped between the layers in the leek is washed away. Pat the leek dry with a clean cloth. Slice the leeks into 1/2 inch dice.

Pour the oil into a pan and heat up over a medium heat. Add the leeks to the pan.

 

Sauté the chopped leek until tender.
Sauté the chopped leek until tender.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes.

 

Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the tinned tomatoes.

Add all of the tinned chopped tomatoes.
Add all of the tinned chopped tomatoes.

 

Add the nutmeg and dried herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook with a lid almost covering for 1 1/2 hours.

While the vegetable sauce is cooking make the Cheese Sauce.

As soon as the vegetable sauce has cooked remove from the heat.

Cook your chosen pasta according to the package instructions, less 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and tip into the vegetable sauce. Mix the pasta and vegetable sauce together.

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, pour the pasta/vegetable mix into a baking dish.
Pour the pasta/vegetable mix into a baking dish.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, smother in cheese sauce and finish with a sprinkling of finely grated cheese.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, smother in cheese sauce and finish with a sprinkling of finely grated cheese.

You can bake the pasta dish in a medium oven, 180C/160C fan immediately, for 1hour, until golden and bubbling.

Alternatively, cover the cooled Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake in cling film and refridgerate for up to 3 days. If freezing, cool, wrap the entire dish in cling film and then aluminium foil.

Serving the vegetarian pasta bake.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake

Versatile Vegetarian Meals

You can switch up the veggies to whatever you have on hand. In fact this dish is a great way to use up small amounts of vegetables sitting in the fridge, before your next grocery shop!

Perfect served just as it is, or you can stretch it further by serving with some crusty bread and salad. Either way this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake is sure to become a favourite in your home.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake you may also like these:

Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad

FF Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
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Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

FF Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

Walnut Pastry Crust Leek Stilton Tart

FF Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
Walnut Pastry Crust Leek Stilton Tart

Since this recipe is meat free it can be shared by more people. And it’s ideal for pot luck church meals. Because it is so versatile, allowing you to substitute whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, or even in the garden, it’s budget friendly too. Also to make the dish stretch further, serve with salad and some homemade Tomato Thyme Garlic Focaccia Bread. Delicious, nutritious and easy on the pocket, this vegetarian recipe ticks all the boxes.

So, whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.

Sammie xx

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Chicken Four Cheese Lasagne

Hi, roadway I’m sharimg my recipe for Chicken Four Cheese Lasagne. It is a tasty twist on a classic dish. While there are a few steps to follow, each part of the recipe is easy to follow. And there is no need to precook the lasagne sheets. Making this recipe using minced chicken is a tasty twist on an Italian classic.

Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne - delish!
Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne.

As a busy household, make ahead meals are a life, or should I say a sanity saver.

A perfect, portable meal for sharing with others.
A perfect, portable meal for sharing with others.

By substituting beef with minced chicken, the resulting baked lasagne becomes a lighter dish. Not lighter in calories, with the delicious four cheese sauce. Rather, not as heavy on the stomach. And the four cheese sauce was the result of me raiding the fridge for leftover Christmas cheese.

The Four Cheese Sauce tops of this lasagne perfectly!!
The Four Cheese Sauce tops of this lasagne perfectly!!

Since minced chicken may not be available everywhere, minced turkey is a great substitute.  Alternatively, processing skinless chicken breasts, thighs or a combination in a food processor would be another way to make your own chicken mince. Another option, finely chopped chicken using a sharp knife would work and give the lasagne added texture.

Recipe : Chicken Four Cheese Lasagne Serves 6-8 portions.

Chicken Lasagne Sauce

450g/1lb  Chicken Mince

1  Large White Onion

2tbsp  Olive Oil – I use Filippo Berio

2  Celery Stalks – the larger outside stalks

1  Green Pepper – washed, deseeded and finely diced

2-3  Carrots – peeled and finely diced

3  Garlic Cloves – minced or crushed (using a garlic press)

3 x 400g  Chopped Tinned Tomatoes

2tbsp  Tomato Puree

1tsp  Dried Mixed Herbs – or fresh basil, oregano, parsley and thyme – to taste

1tsp  Sugar

Salt and Ground Black Pepper – to taste

Cheese Sauce :

3tbsp  Butter

3tbsp  Plain White Flour

750-800ml/Approx 26fl oz Whole Milk

6oz  Hard Cheese – I used a 50/50 mixture of Mature Cheddar and Swiss Cheese cut into small cubes or grated

4.5oz/125g  Riccota Cheese

250g/8.5oz Mozzarella Cheese

1 tsp  Nutmeg – freshly grated if possible

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste.

Butter – For Greasing the Lasagne Dish

1 packet Dried Egg Lasagne Sheets 375g/13-14oz – dont worry if the packet requires pre-cooking you won’t need to.

Method:

A rectangular, ovenproof dish approximately 30cm x 20cm x 9cm (12in x 8in x 3.5in) is needed to make this lasagne.

Making The Chicken Lasagne Sauce

  • First of all finely chop the onion, celery, green pepper and carrots.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.
  • Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes over a medium heat until the onions start to turn translucent.
  • Next add the diced celery to the pan and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes until the celery starts to soften.
  • Push the onions and celery to one side of the pan and add the Chicken mince to the other side. Alternatively if you don’t have a large sauté pan, remove the onions and celery, into a separate dish and then add the Chicken to the pan.
  • Cook the chicken, using a wooden spatula to break up the mince so large clumps of meat don’t form.
Having a large sauté pan means you can cook all the ingredients in one go!!!
Having a large sauté pan means you can cook all the ingredients in one go!!!
  • Unlike beef mince, the chicken mince will get lighter as it cooks.
  • Cook the chicken turns opaque but not browned.
  • Now add the carrots, green pepper and the minced garlic.

Mix all the veggies and garlic with the Chicken mince. Inhale the gorgeous aroma!

  • As soon as everything is mixed together add the tomatoes. Also fill each empty can almost to the top with water and add that to the pan.
  • Add the tomato purée, dried or fresh chopped herbs.
  • Give everything a good stir then add the sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and leave to gently bubble away on the stove for an hour, stirring occasionally.

This gorgeous Chicken, vegetable and tomato sauce just bubbles away happily on the stove! Pop the kettle on for a cuppa!!!!

Making Four Cheese Sauce Lasagne Topping

  • Place a medium sized pan over a gentle heat. Add the butter and cook until melted and starting to sizzle.
  • Next tip the flour on to the melted butter stirring constantly until combined and smooth.
  • Continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
This is what the butter and flour should look like.
This is what the butter and flour should look like.
  • Start slowly adding the milk, stirring vigorously as the paste thickens. Continue stirring while adding small amounts of milk.
The sauce will become very thick. DON'T WORRY!!!!
The sauce will become very thick.
  • As more milk is added lumps may form, switch to a balloonwhisk at this stage.
  • Continue until all the milk has been added and absorbed.
  • The sauce will be thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.
No lumps here - if you squint!!!!!!
No lumps here – if you squint!!!!!!
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the ricotta and the other cheeses (except the mozzarella), stir vigorously.
The Ricotta gets dumped in and then add the hard cheeses.
The Ricotta gets dumped in and then add the hard cheeses.
  • Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Ricotta cheese will give the Four Cheese Sauce a slightly grainy texture, that’s normal. While grated cheese will melt into the sauce easily, cubed cheese will almost never become completely smooth, that’s ok as it will when it’s baked in the oven later. Also the addition of freshly ground nutmeg elevates the flavour above and beyond, but please, if you can, grate your own nutmeg.
  • Set to one side to cool.

Assembling The Lasagne Layers

  • First of all liberally butter the ovenproof dish. Since I’ve made a LOT of lasagne buttering the dish before hand not only helps when serving, it also doesn’t require 3 days soaking to remove baked on lasagne.

I always butter my lasagne dish, it makes the cooked lasagne much easier to dish up!

I wasn’t joking when I said that you don’t have to precook the lasagne sheets. Since I’ve used lots of different makes, some with ruffled edges, green spinach lasagne sheets, egg versus plain AND this recipe works with all types.

 

These are dried lasagne sheets. Any brand will do!
These are dried lasagne sheets. Any brand will do!

 

As soon as you have buttered the dish place a layer of hot chicken lasagne sauce into the bottom of the dish, so that it is completely covered.

The first layer is down, time to start building!!!
The first layer is down, time to start building!
  • Next place enough lasagne sheets to cover the bottom layer.  The layers should meet or very slightly overlap.
If your lasagne sheets don't fit exactly, just snap bits off to adjust them.
If your lasagne sheets don’t fit exactly, just snap bits off to adjust them.
  • Repeat the sauce/lasagne sheet layering twice more finishing with a sheet layer.
All the bits and pieces of the lasagne sheets will be covered by the Four Cheese Sauce.
All the bits and pieces of the lasagne sheets will be covered by the Four Cheese Sauce.
  • Pour the cooled cheese sauce all over the top of the lasagne sheets.
Ooh this is going to be sooooo good - look at that yummy cheese sauce layer!
Ooh this is going to be sooooo good – look at that yummy cheese sauce layer!

Finishing The Lasagne

  • Drain and slice the mozzarella cheese.
The final gooey, stringy, adornment for this fab lasagne dish!
The final gooey, stringy, adornment for this fab lasagne dish!
  • And now arrange the mozzarella slices on top of the cheese sauce.
The Four Cheese Sauce tops off this lasagne perfectly!!
The Four Cheese Sauce tops off this lasagne perfectly.
  • Finally leave the lasagne for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight. So that the dried lasagne slices have time to absorb moisture from both sauces. Also this  dish can be made 1-2 days in advance, wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge.

Baking The Lasagne

  • As soon as the lasagne is ready to bake preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven, 350F, gas mark 4.
  • Place the lasagne dish on to a slightly larger baking tray; this dish can bubble up and over.
  • Bake the lasagne for 1 1/2 hours until piping hot all the way through and golden brown.
Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne - delish!
Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne – delish!
  • Remove from the oven 10-15 minutes before serving.  Doing so allows the lasagne to cool slightly and more importantly, hold it’s shape when served.

This Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne is delicious on it’s own, served with a salad and freshly baked Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bead. Also it can be frozen at the pre-bake stage or in individual portions, wrapped tightly in foil and popped into the freezer. Or why not double the quantities and make an extra meal for the freezer?

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Chicken Four Cheese Lasagne you may also like these:

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake 

FF Chicken Four Cheese Lasagne
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake

Smoked Bacon Asparagus Quich

FF Chicken Four Cheese Lasagne
Smoked Bacon Asparagus Quiche

Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta

FF Chicken Four Cheese Lasagne
Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta

 

While traditional recipes will stand the test of time, importantly it’s fun to change things up. And sharing those changes is especially important as is sharing the food we make.  Most of all if you know a new mum, or someone who has been ill for a while, or just a very busy family that you would like to bless, then this is THE perfect, portable, all in one meal for sharing!

Sammie x

 

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