Nan's Pasta Bake
Member recipe by lizi006
A cheat's quick cheap dinner that always keeps us grandkids begging for more!
- 500g dried pasta (or a large handful per serving)
- one medium onion, finely diced (or substitute with leek if you prefer)
- 5 rashers streaky bacon, sliced
- 2-3 medium carrots, very finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- A large handful of each:
- green beans, topped, tailed, and sliced
- frozen peas
- frozen sweetcorn
- Mushrooms, de-stalked and sliced
- Dried or fresh herbs to taste
- 1 tin of condensed chicken soup
- 200g grated cheddar cheese
- seasoning to taste
- oil or butter for cooking
- Good old crusty buttered bread to serve
- First things first, lets put our pasta on to cook- dried pasta should always be plunged into already boiling, salted water (though, to be honest, I pop it straight in the pan with water from the kettle and its never made any difference to me!) We'll keep it on a medium heat, just simmering away as we don't want it to cook too fast. Then, we'll preheat the oven- I generally just stick it on full whack, but let's say a conservative 180C (gas 6), shall we?!
- While that's doing, let's melt some butter (or add oil) in a large saucepan or deep frying pan, and chuck in our chopped onion, bacon, carrot, and celery. Make sure the heat's not up too high, as we want these to cook through quite gently without getting too much colour. (it's important the carrot is chopped very finely so it cooks through properly)
- Once our veggies have softened up, it's time to check the pasta- it should be nearly there by now. We can leave it slightly al dente if we want, as its going to be cooked again briefly in the oven, but use your judgement here. as soon as it's cooked, we'll drain it and put it aside.
- Our onion, bacon, carrot, and celery should be very nearly cooked, now, so let's add the rest of the vegetables- green beans, peas, sweetcorn, and mushrooms- but as with almost everything in this recipe, these can be substituted for your favourites. these only need to cook off for a few minutes, and as soon as they're done, the pan can come off the heat.
- We now have everything we need to start assembling our lovely dinner; pop the pasta into a large oven dish or casserole, and throw the cooked veggies on top. Add some herbs and mix it all together. (I use dried herbs, so its important to add them at this stage so the heat and steam from the pasta and vegetables softens them- if you're worried about dry herbs, add them to the vegetables while cooking)
- Now its time for our secret ingredient (a naughty little secret my Nan kept from me for years!) Simply open up a tin of condensed chicken soup, and scoop it out into the pasta mix. Easy Peasy! If you find that its too thick or that theres not enough, let it down with just a little water from the kettle.
- Lets stick some cheese in there, too- about a third of it should do as we don't want it overpowering. Give everything a good mix through and we're ready to season. Its important not to season until this stage, as the soup and cheese are salty on their own- I find i rarely add any salt at all, but a hefty dose of black pepper is just the ticket here.
- Now that we're all seasoned up, its time to bake the bake! Sprinkle the remaining cheese all over the top and get it straight in the oven- by this point i'm normally so ravenous I've eaten half the buttered bread I want to serve it with!
- We'll leave it in the oven for, say... 20 minutes, or until the cheese is deliciously brown and bubbly. This, for me, needs to be served liberally, in great big pasta bowls, and with enormous hunks of crusty bread. All that's left, then, is to wolf the lot down our greedy little necks- this proper lazy comfort food never stays on a plate for long in my house!