Thursday, 10 July 2008

9th July 2008

Last night was pretty chaotic, which is part of the reason Alex made his own dinner (see previous entry). Guy's ETA kept changing, and I had to worry about getting Alex to his music event and collect him, so I was in a real state of confusion about what to cook for Guy and I. Luckily, I had some roasted vegetables in the fridge. I always try to keep some ready. They are so easy to prepare. Just cut an assortment of peppers, courgettes (zucchini) and onion up, toss in about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and roast for about 40 minutes at 350 F or 170 C. Give them a stir half way through and that's about it. They are so useful. You can use them on pizzas, in risotto, pasta, sandwiches and salads. They are good hot or cold, and will keep for up to three days stored in the fridge.

So I used my handy stash of roast veg to make an old favourite, vegetarian pasta bake. It was a great success, and being a bake, sort of "held" in the oven until we could eat it.

Vegetarian Pasta Bake
Serves 2 - 3

200 grams penne or other dried pasta shapes, cooked according to package directions
2 cups roasted vegetables
1 jar Sacla vine-ripened tomato and mascarpone stir through sauce
1/4 cup cream (single or double) OR creme fraiche
1-1/2 cups grated cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, gruyere or any combination thereof)
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Mix the roasted vegetables into the drained, cooked pasta. Add the jar of sauce and the cream or creme fraiche and stir through. Put this mixture into a casserole dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the cheese and bread crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta mixture in the casserole dish. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 350 F or 170 C, or until the cheesey topping has melted and turned a light golden colour.

Serve immediately, or, if you need to "hold" this for a while, turn the heat back to about 275 F or 125 C and just let it sit in the oven, keeping an eye on it to make sure the topping does not get too brown. It's best served fairly quickly, but in my experience it will hold quite happily like this for up to forty minutes. If you know you are going to have to "hold" dinner, the other option is to set the heat a bit lower from the beginnning and just let the topping melt and cook more slowly to start with.

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