Inspired by last weeks Bake Off episode, which had an Italian theme, I decide to go with something a little different from your standard GBBO style creations. Whilst this perhaps isn’t the first kind of recipe that would come to mind when you think of a baking contest, technically I think it still counts.. as it has been baked in the oven for part of the cooking process. Oh.. and pasta is an Itlalian inspired dish, so It also fits with the Bake Off theme!
Growing up, there was nothing that I would enjoy more for dinner, than tucking into a great big bowl of pasta topped with melty cheese! My mum used to be the queen of pasta dishes and it was something that we enjoyed at least three times per week! Not only does it taste delicious, but it’s already really quick and easy to make and is also a fantastic option when you’re looking to cook up a big family meal. It’s something that lots of people enjoy and you can easily cook up large portions, if you have lots of hungry mouths to feed. I know pasta was something that made a regular appearance on the menu whenever I had friends over for dinner. Come to think of it, I would even order pasta dishes when eating out at Italian restaurants too. I think 9/10 of my friends would always opt for a pizza, but pasta definitely always won my heart!
When I began to dabble in the world of health and fitness, pasta soon became banished to the far depths of the kitchen cupboard and was swiftly replaced by a slightly more green, courgette shaped resemblance. By which I mean, a courgette. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept of courgetti; and in case you’re not, it’s when you spirilize a courgette to create spaghetti like strands. Nowa’ days, it appears that courgetti isn’t as popular as it once was and people seem to have taken a bit of a 180 turn on the subject! I don’t hate courgetti and in fact, courgettes are actually still one of my favourite veggies; but I am glad that pasta has returned to my life and I no longer feel guilt around tucking into a delicious bowl of carbs goodness! Personally, I like to keep my diet gluten free whenever possible, as I’m gluten intolerant, but you can of course use any pasta you like. Gluten free pasta is luckily now a lot easier to get hold of in supermarkets and I can even pick it up in the little Tesco store in my apartment block. I also don’t really notice the difference between this an regular pasta to be honest, so if you’re in the market for a gluten free alternative, then don’t be afraid to give gluten free pasta a go!
Even before I entered into the realms of cooking 24hours a day and devoting the majority of my time to experimenting in the kitchen like some sort of mad scientist, pasta bakes were actually a firm favourite for me and my boyfriend to make together. However, these were somewhat laden with cheese, milk and butter. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat any of these things, but our version was pretty much 99% cheese and other dairy products.. which is probably a little excessive and highly calorific! For this recipe, I wanted to make something warming, comforting, delicious and full of wholesome natural ingredients. Oh.. and also something that you can easily cook up at home, when you get in from work and don’t want to spend ages faffing around in the kitchen! FYI this is also a pretty fab meal prep option, so you can save some and take it to work for lunch the following day! That’s better than soggy sandwiches, am I right?!
Cheesy Tomato Pasta Bake
- 2 cups cherry/baby plum tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 small white onion
- 1 clove garlic- crushed
- Sprinkling of mixed herbs
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (drinking kind)
- 200g gluten free pasta
- 50g grated cheddar cheese (can use reduced fat if you like)
- Finely dice the onion and add this into a frying pan with a little olive oil or cooking spray. Bring this to a medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Crush in the garlic clove and cook until fragrant.
- Pour in the tomatoes and add a splash of water. Cook the tomatoes until softened and you can smash them with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the tomato puree and season with salt, pepper and mixed herbs.
- Pop the sauce mixture into a blender and blitz this with the coconut milk until smooth and creamy.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to instructions on the pack and preheat your oven to 200c.
- Stir the sauce through the pasta and transfer into a baking dish. Top with the grated cheese and pop the pasta into the oven for 25 minutes, until the cheese is crisp and golden on top.
- Serving Size: 3