Thursday, 20 February 2014

Renew the Menu: Pasta Bake with Hidden Vegetables

This is one of my all-time favourite dinners. Everyone has their own favourite lasagne or pasta bake recipe and this is mine. I can make it with my eyes closed and love it because it can feed a crowd, the kids will actually eat it and there is usually leftovers which I either freeze or eat on another night to save cooking. This time though I changed it up a bit. I decided that instead of the usual b├ęchamel sauce I would make a white sauce with cauliflower in yet another attempt to sneak in some more vegetables. It worked a treat! I was worried that the cauliflower would overpower it or that it wouldn’t taste the same but believe it or not I think it actually added to the taste of this already yummy dish!
I started cooking this pasta bake recipe years ago, the recipe is from an Annette Sym, Symply too Good to be True cookbook. I can’t recall which edition and I usually adapt it to whatever ingredients I have on hand and it still always turns out tasty. The use of condensed tomato soup as the sauce I admit is not the healthiest but if you look around you can find some that are lower in sugar and salt. It’s amazing the difference between brands! I also omit the tomato paste to lower the sugar content.
The addition of the cauliflower sauce is definitely a keeper and is actually much easier to make than a white sauce, so I highly recommend you try it next time you are making your favourite lasagne or pasta bake!

Pasta Bake with Hidden Vegetables

Serves 6

500g beef mince
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, grated
1 medium zucchini, grated
½ cup frozen peas
1 x 420g tin condensed tomato soup
1 x tsp of stock powder (I use vegetable but beef is good also)
400g penne pasta or similar
¾ cup tasty grated cheese
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius

1.       Brown mince in large saucepan, once browned drain excess liquid
2.       Add diced onion, grated carrot and zucchini to mince and cook for 5 minutes
3.       Add tomato soup, stock powder and peas, cook for a further 3 minutes
4.       Whilst cooking mince, cook pasta according to instructions, drain and set aside
5.       Mix pasta and mince mixture together
6.       Pour into large lasagne dish and top with cauliflower sauce and grated cheese
7.       Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top
Doesn't make for pretty photos but makes up for it in taste!

Cauliflower sauce

½ head of cauliflower
1 ½ cups milk
Herbamare or other seasoning


1.     Chop cauliflower into small pieces, steam until tender and able to be mashed (I steam mine in the microwave with a little water for approximately 8 minutes)
2.      Add milk ½ cup at a time and puree using stick blender, keep adding milk until consistency is similar to b├ęchamel sauce, add salt or other seasoning

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