I love cooking for friends, and having a house full of happy full bellies and laughter. I used to get pretty stressed about having to cook something unusual or fancy to impress when people came over to eat. But over the years I have realised people really don’t mind what you serve them, they are usually just happy to have someone else cook for them and to spend time relaxing. So I decided on Saturday I would just do an easy pasta bake, this way I am less busy in the kitchen and able to spend more time actually with friends. This recipe is a mix-match of different recipes and is kind of my own creation. The breadcrumbs give the pasta bake a nice crispy texture on the top which pasta bakes need to make sure it isn’t just a gloop of carbs. The beans in this dish also give it a good portion of protein for all the meat eaters who bitch and moan that veggie meals don’t have any protein in them, ha!
Anyway, the meal went down well, averaged about a 7 out of 10, it was yummy, wholesome, filling food. Nothing fancy but everyone was still happy, I urge all of you to cook something quick and easy next time you have friends for dinner and see how much more relaxed your evening is. Worked for me and the copious amounts of rum definitely helped!
Farmhouse Pasta Bake
1 Garlic Clove
1/2 bunch Thyme
1 tablespoon Tomato Puree
1/2 teaspoon Provencale Herbs
30 grams Panko Breadcrumbs
20 grams Hard Italian Cheese grated
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Cut the aubergine and courgette into 1cm cubes. Put your veggies in a bowl and toss in a good splash of oil, a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Put a frying pan on high heat and cook your aubergine and courgette for a few minutes until slightly charred, then remove from the pan.
2. Meanwhile, Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and grate the garlic (or use a garlic press if you have one). Strip the thyme leaves off their stalks (discarding the stalks). Drain and rinse the mixed beans.
3. In your now empty pan, add a splash of oil and turn the heat down to medium. Add your onion, garlic and thyme and cook gently for 5 mins then add the tomato purée and stir well.
4. Boil up some pasta in a pan of salted water, remove from the heat when the pasta is al-dente.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes, provençal herbs, mixed beans and your veggies to your onions and give it all a good stir. Let it warm through – this should take about 5 mins on medium heat.
6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs and hard Italian cheese with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
7. Taste your veggie mix for seasoning, add salt and black pepper if necessary and then mix with your pasta. Pour your mixture into an ovenproof dish. Tear the mozzarella over the top and sprinkle with your cheesy breadcrumb mixture. Put on the top shelf of your oven for 5-10 mins until crispy and golden on top.
8. Tuck in!