After a hell of a few weeks with almost no cooking from me, I needed to chill out, open that bottle of red wine (or two) and eat something stodgy and comforting.
I have been munching on hardly anything lately with my appetite being at my all time low so this had to be rectified by cooking something deliciously calorific.
Pasta has always been a comfort food for me, I unfortunately seem to hardly ever get enough of it. It’s supposedly not good for you. Well I guess too much of anything is not good for you, like wine, chocolate or crack but sometimes you need these one dish meals where you know you will have enough leftover to take it to work.
But we wouldn’t be SaucyPans if we didn’t think “that ain’t enough.”
I thought up this recipe which has all my favourite pasta dishes combined in one: it’s rigatoni in garlicky tomato sauce with meatballs made of sausage meat topped with a cheesy white sauce like lasagne and sprinkled with mozzarella and more cheese and a crunchy topping.
Already full/salivating while reading this? Good!
This recipe is simple but might have a few separate steps. You can always cut corners if you just buy cheesy sauce or buy the tomato sauce in a jar.
Recipe yields 4 generous servings
– Rigatoni (or any pasta shape you love) for 4 people
For the tomato sauce:
– 1 carton (500g) of passata
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 1 tsp of basil or oregano
– 1 courgette (optional and illusion of health)
For the cheese sauce:
– 2 Tbs of butter/spread
– 2 Tbs Plain Flour
– 150-200g grated cheddar cheese
– 1/2 pint of milk
For the sausage meatballs:
– 350g sausage meat
– half a pack of sage and onion stuffing mix (or just enough so the mix doesn’t stick to your hands)
– 1 ball of mozzarella to garnish the top, this will give you stringy bits! Or stick to cheddar cheese.
Turn on your oven to 170C
Bring pasta to boil.
Meanwhile mix the sausage meat with the stuffing mix until well combined, moisten your hands as you make golf ball sized meatballs.
Fry the meatballs over medium heat until brown all over, transfer to a dish.
Chop courgette into cubes and slice garlic finely.
Add courgette and garlic to the pan, fry until soften on a lower heat. Add the passata and herbs, add a tsp of sugar to the sauce to take off the edge of the acidity. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Let it simmer.
Check on the pasta whether it’s done, if so drain and put it into your deep oven dish.
Heat up the fat in a clean saucepan until melted. Add flour and mix with a whisk until you have yellow flour crumbs.
Add the milk and keep whisking until the sauce is thickened and has the consistency of runny custard. Add the cheese and mix, keeping enough cheese for sprinkling over the pasta.
The tomato sauce should have reduced slightly. Add it to the pasta and mix.
Dot the meatballs on top and add the cheese sauce all over. Place the sliced mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese and some of the stuffing mix for a crunchy topping.
Bake in the oven at 170C for 30 mins.
Check after 30 mins and lower the heat down to 150 for the last 10 mins, to make sure the meatballs are cooked through.
Serve and enjoy the best pasta bake dish ever! 🙂