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MEATBALL PASTA BAKE

Prep: 5 mins

Cook: 40 mins

Serves: 4

VG, VE


This is a great way of getting kids to eat lots of vegetables, being coated in the tomato sauce they seem to slip in under the radar! If you want to make it ahead of time. Cook the meatballs and pasta beforehand, then reheat the sauce until piping hot, stir in the pasta and then place under the grill. To make vegan, just replace the mince and the cheese with vegan friendly products!


Ingredients:

250g beef mince

50g dry white breadcrumbs

1 tsp dried oregano

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

150g button mushrooms, halved

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed, cut into 2cm chunks

1 courgette, cut into 2cm chunks

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 bay leaf

225g dried pasta shapes, such as penne or fusilli

1 mozzarella, drained and roughly chopped

100g/3½oz cheddar, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper



  • In a bowl, squash together the mince with the breadcrumbs, half the oregano, a good pinch of salt and lots of pepper. Form into 16 small balls.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs for 5 minutes, turning regularly.

  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion, mushrooms, peppers and courgette for 8–10 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown, stirring regularly.

  • Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more, stirring constantly.

  • Tip the tomatoes into the pan and stir in the ketchup, 300ml water, remaining oregano and the bay leaf.

  • Add the meatballs and bring to a simmer.

  • Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and season with salt and lots of pepper.

  • Meanwhile, half-fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil, adding and cooking the pasta for 10–12 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally

  • Preheat the grill to high.

  • Drain the pasta and return to the pan, adding the tomato and meatball sauce, along with the mozzarella and toss.

  • Transfer to a warmed, 2-litre/3½-pint shallow ovenproof dish – a lasagne dish is ideal.

  • Sprinkle the cheddar over the top and place under the hot grill for 2–3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted, then serve.