Hi, is everyone fed up with the clouds? Yep, me too. Although I love Autumn, it’s endless days of rain, with no blue sky occasionally peeking through can be disheartening. And in all honesty, it makes me want to snuggle up with a good film and a big bowl of this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake.
So, this dish came about because I was too lazy to get any meat out of the freezer! Because 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.
While 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! Because 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. Also, I love to serve this with Focaccia Bread.
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.
Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the tinned 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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