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    Clear-out-the-fridge pasta bake

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    Clear-out-the-fridge pasta bake

    with Elly Pear

    • Preparation time: 10 minutes
    • Cooking time: 30 minutes
    • Total time: 40 minutes

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    These are rough quantities – use what you have!

     
    2-3 large handfuls of veg (eg 1 deseeded red pepper, plus 1 red onion and 2 tomatoes)
    Olive oil, for drizzling
    ½ tsp dried chilli flakes, or to taste
    About 400g any pasta shapes (eg 200g penne plus 200g fusilli)
    About 75-100g any green leaves, washed (eg 1 handful rocket plus 1 handful baby spinach), roughly chopped
    About 25g any soft herbs (eg basil, parsley, coriander, chives), roughly chopped
    About 250g any soft cheese (mascarpone, cream cheese, or even roughly chopped brie)
    About 25-50g fresh or dried breadcrumbs
    About 50-75g any hard cheese (eg Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino or Cheddar), grated

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 240ºC, gas mark 9. Roughly chop the veggies and place in a large ovenproof dish (whatever you’d use for a lasagne, about 20x30cm). Drizzle with olive oil, season well and sprinkle over the chilli flakes and then bake for 20 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to pack instructions. Drain and return it to the pan with a splash of the cooking water. Add the green leaves and any herbs you have. The heat of the pasta will make them wilt. Stir well, add the soft cheese and stir well again.

    3. Tip everything into the baking dish, then mix the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese and scatter evenly over the surface of the whole dish.

    4. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until piping hot and the top is golden and crispy.

     

    Other things you can add to a pasta bake
    Leftover jar of pesto
    Handful of fresh/frozen peas
    Leftover salami, ham, cured or other cooked meat, chopped
    Spoonful of harissa or other flavoured paste

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    Elly’s tips Other veg that work well include courgettes, aubergine, broccoli and leeks. Carrots and squash will also be delicious, but these harder vegetables will need to be peeled and par-boiled first.
    If you have no soft cheese to use up, it’s nice to replace it with a basic white sauce to ensure your bake is not too dry. This is simple – mix equal quantities of plain flour and butter in a small saucepan over a low heat to make a roux. Slowly whisk in some warm milk over a gentle heat until you have a thick white sauce.

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