20 November 2010

Pasta Ratatouille Bake and how time flies!

I woke up this morning with two priorities in mind.  One was to bake some Muffins involving Quince in some way.  The other was to blog on the Ratatouille Bake we ate for dinner last night.

So far, it's got to 1.50pm and I've had a shower, had breakfast, been to Sainsbury's (extra-curricular trip, for flour), returned and caught up with my email whilst having a coffee, then had lunch, then had an extra-curricular trip to the Ashley Road to drop hubby off.  Only now, am I getting to one of those priorities.  Does this happen to everyone, or is it just me?

Yes, I could have got out of bed before 9 a.m. but I have been so totally dog-tired for the last two days that having a bit of a long sleep through was getting to be vital.  I'm always scared to become too tired, just in case - one day - my brain decides to melt as it did some 2 years ago when I had a mini stroke.  Don't want that to happen again, just in case next time it decides not to be mini!  Anyway.  Enough rambling about not having time - let's get on and tell you about the Pasta Ratatouille Bake.

I had tripped over this recipe on the Good Food Channel's website and it appealed to me for the following reasons :

1.  It provided three of your five-a-day vegetables in what appeared to be extremely palatable form;
2.  It used pasta, so was potentially a good alternative to using potatoes in a dish;
3.  It was oven baked with cheese melted over the top, which is very palatable for young Son.

I knew Son wouldn't enjoy the courgettes, but they were big enough for him to avoid.  I had hope that he would enjoy the broad beans, as they were a relatively new vegetable for him and, coming in frozen form, were easy to keep handy.

As it turned out, the dish was delicious and baked well with the pasta.  I used Spirali instead of the classic macaroni, largely because we already had some Spirali in the cupboard.  I also used Thyme instead of Basil, as my Basil plant had died over the last two days of sharp overnight frosts.  Even being kept in the kitchen didn't help it.  I admit that I also added a tablespoon of tomato ketchup to the sauce, just to add that little tang that the fresh tomato wasn't providing.  The last adjustment was that I grated over some sharp Cheddar cheese as well as the Parmesan, in order to up the cheese quota so as to appeal to Son.  The recipe makes a fair amount - way more than would feed 4 people - but nil desperandum as it made a lovely lunch the following day.


Ingredients :

200g pasta (Spirali or Macaroni are good)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 courgettes, sliced (you may need 3, depending on how many you're feeding & the size of the courgettes.  Mine were big!)
200g broad beans (fresh, frozen or tinned)
1 tbps tomato ketchup
125ml vegetable stock (from a cube is fine, just don't add too much extra salt)
25g parmesan cheese, grated
10g sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Method :

1.  Preheat the oven to 180deg c/gas mark 4.

2.  Cook the pasta according to the instructions given on the packet and drain.

3.  Meanwhile, in a deep frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onion for 5-10 mins, until it's tender and golden.

4.  Add the garlic for the last 2-3 minutes and cook through.

5.  Stir in the herbs, tomatoes, courgettes, beans, stock, tomato ketchup and seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes.

6.  Combine the pasta with the vegetables and stir gently, then decant into a warmed casserole dish.

7.  Grate the cheese over the top, then oven-bake for 30-35 mins.

Excellent served with Sausages, Gammon, Pork Chops.

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