The smells coming from the oven when this is cooking is simply wonderful!
Here I made a simple pasta bake using fresh ingredients, so it's full of flavour and oh so delicious!
It is a very filling dish, so beware! What looks like a small portion on your plate is certainly going to fill your tummy!
2Cupsof your favorite pastacooked and drained.
500gor 1 lb Ground beefpork, chicken or soya
1Package of fresh or frozen spinach (I have tried the recipe out using both and they work very wellso choose whatever you can buy!)
1medium onion chopped
3clovesgarlic finely chopped
2teaspoonsWorcestershire Sauceor Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
** I also used a handful of sliced mushrooms for added texture.
You can also add some fresh basil / thyme etc when cooking the meat.
40g/ 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
300ml/ 1 1/4 cups MilkI used skimmed milk
300mlor 1 1/4 cups Chicken Broth
150g/ 1 1/2 cups grated cheese
Choose your favourite cheese. I used Cheddar.
Salt & Pepper
Make the meat filling. Peel & chop onion, garlic (and mushrooms if using) then add to a pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Lightly fry until the onions are soft and translucent (not brown as this will make them taste bitter)
Add your meat and cornstarch and cook, stirring in the pan with the other ingredients. Add the spinach and Worcestershire Sauce and leave to simmer very low whilst you make the cheese sauce. Season if you wish with salt & pepper.
Make the Cheese Sauce. Melt butter in pan under gentle heat
Add Flour and beat until smooth paste and take pan off the heat.
Slowly add the milk and broth (combine them in to one jug for ease), a little at a time and combine until smooth, then add a little more of the milk / broth, combine. Continue until all the milk / broth is used.
Return to gentle heat, and keep stirring until thick This will take about 5 minutes so be patient and keep stirring!. Season with salt and pepper if you wish. (your cheese may be salty so taste the sauce first!)
Add 3/4 of the grated cheese and combine. The remaining 1/4 of the cheese is for the top of the bake.
Build the Pasta Bake. Preheat oven to 170 C / 325 F / Gas 3
Start with a layer of 1/3 of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of cooked pasta, then cheese sauce. Repeat these layers, ending with the cheese sauce as the final top layer. Then sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top.
*** you should be able to make 3 layers altogether.
Place in the oven for 45 minutes. I would advise to place the bake on a baking tray to catch any drips. When done, remove and leave to set for 30 minutes. If you try and cut the bake when it is piping hot it is too slushy. Allow to firm up a little then you can make nice portions and get the bake from the pan using a fish slice.