I really love pasta bakes, they are the ultimate clearing-out-the-fridge-companion, as you can thow anything in it and it still tastes good, and I love the crispy cheese on top, very comforting. So Christopher and I have been debating the pasta bake for a few weeks. Me pro, he against. But then suddenly, he gave in and said we could try it. That means I won, right? 😉
When I put the dish down in front of him, he said it looked really good and smelt lovely, and to his surprise he really enjoyed it, he didn’t just have a second helping but a third. Smugly I said ‘Well I wasn’t going to make a crappy pasta bake’, and he explained that he ate a lot of pasta bakes at Uni but they weren’t as good, so that was he expected. I think I have converted him now.
I find it much easier to make this creme fraiche based sauce instead of a proper bechamel, it is much quicker and perfect for a weekday dinner. And you can use the half fat creme fraiche, I sometimes do.
Pasta bake with spicy sausage, mushrooms and chilli, serves 3-4
250 g dried pasta (any shape but spaghetti/tagliatelle)
150 g spicy sausage/chorizo
1 can sliced mushrooms
For the sauce:
300 ml creme fraiche
3-4 tbsp chilli sauce (I used Heinz and Reggae Reggae)
2 tsp Gourmet Garden Parsley blend or 1 tbsp chopped parsley
100 ml grated cheese and more to put on top
a splash of concentrated vegetable stock
salt & white pepper
Cook the pasta and drain it. Fry the mushrooms in a knob of butter and olive oil until they have a nice colour, remove from frying pan. Cut the sausage into slices and fry these in the same pan until the have a nice colour (this intensifies the flavour). Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil, season to taste. Grease an oven-proof dish with butter and pour in half of the pasta. Distribute half of the mushrooms and sausage on top, and add some of the red cooking juice from the sausage too, it will add some more flavour. Then pour nearly half of the sauce on top as well. Repeat with another layer and sprinkle plenty of grated cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes in 200C.