Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Cheese & Tomato Pasta Bake

My hubby says he can't cook. Like most men, I think it's often more a case of won't cook. So I asked him about it and he says he gets very stressed trying to follow a recipe and thinks he has to stick rigidly to the instructions or it will all go horribly wrong. This is one of his favourite dinners so, when he was home from work for a few days recently, I helped him make it and he was surprised by how easy it is. He was also very chuffed that he'd cooked a meal and felt confident that he could manage it by himself in the future. 
Be warned though, this is not a low-fat recipe, my lot love anything full of cheese! I often make this in the morning, pop it in the fridge and bake twenty minutes before we're ready to eat, so it's perfect for a busy day.
Please note that this recipe makes more sauce than you really need as I always make enough to pop some in the freezer for another time!
Serves 6 with accompaniments or 4 greedy people like my family...


Approx 4 tomatoes, more if you like
200g grated cheese - I used mature cheddar
300g dried pasta - I used penne
100g butter or margarine
75g Plain flour
Approx 1 pint of milk
Salt & Pepper
Basil - optional


De-seed your tomatoes by quartering and then scooping out with a spoon what I call the "slimy" bit! Roughly chop and put to one side.

Start cooking your pasta according to the pack instructions. My penne takes about 10-12 minutes in a large pan of boiling water.

Add your butter to a large saucepan and melt over a low heat.

Tip in the flour and stir into the butter and cook for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

Start adding the milk a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.

Then tip in the rest of the milk and increase the heat. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens. As I'm preparing the pasta bake ahead, I add a little more milk to make the sauce looser as the pasta will absorb some.

When you're happy with the thickness of your sauce, season well with salt and pepper, then add about ⅔ of your grated cheese and stir in. 

That's the sauce finished. If your pasta is ready, drain in a colander and tip into a large oven-safe dish or tin.

Mix as much sauce as you like into the cooked pasta and tip any leftover sauce into a tub for the freezer.

Nearly done! Chop some herbs if you wish (I used Basil) and add to your tomatoes before scattering over the top of your pasta.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Now you can either bung it in the fridge for cooking later or bake straight away in a 200° fan oven for about twenty minutes until the cheese has melted and a nice golden colour.

We like this with some salad, crusty bread or garlic bread.

Happy Cooking

- x -

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