Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Pasta Bake

Everyone has a different pasta bake recipe. I tumbled upon mine by combining two recipes watched on TV. If truth be told, this recipe was a result of confusion – one of those stories with happy endings. After a few iterations, pasta bake has become one of my camouflage dishes. You can add in any vegetable, steamed and mashed of course to evade detection. My kids love it and it doesn’t take too much effort to cook, what more could a mother want. I love it too; it’s a shame that S doesn’t like pasta. This is what he is missing……..
My troops are an undisciplined lot and could not wait until their Commander took a picture

  • Pasta – 200 gms
  • Cheese grated – 150 gms (this can be adjusted to taste)
  • Basil leaves – chopped

Optional Garnish

· Cooked Tuna steaks – 50 gms

· Cooked Prawns - 6

White Sauce

· Flour – 1 Tbsp

· Butter or Olive oil – 2 Tbsp

· Milk – ½ cup

· Grated cheese – 1 handful (optional)

Vegetable sauce

· Carrots – 2

· Potato – 1

· Any combination vegetables can be used although I stay away from cauliflower and cabbage

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. For the white sauce, melt the butter in the pan and add the flour. Mix the flour and the butter and combine it well. Start adding milk in spoonfuls and keep mixing. When the milk is combined well with the flour mixture add some more. Continue the process add milk-keep stirring to avoid lumps. When you have finished with the milk add the cheese. Stir it only in one direction (not both ways), it has some thing to do with the proteins in the cheese. The white sauce is done when the cheese is melted. The consistency of the sauce is a little thicker than single cream.

If you are one of those lucky parents whose kids eat veggies or don’t have kids then you don’t have to make the sauce, just steam the vegetables you want to use.

If you are like me then steam the vegetables and puree it in a blender. Now for the assembling bit – Place the pasta in a baking bowl and add the white sauce, vegetable sauce/or vegetables and then add the optional garnish. You don’t have to add the fish, I do, just to further the temptation for my children who happen to love fish and prawns. Alternately you could add cooked chicken or anything your heart desires. Mix them all thoroughly and cover with grated cheese. My choice of cheese is Mild cheddar (kid friendly), but Parmesan would go well too. Add the chopped basil on top and bake it for 20 mins at 200 C in a preheated oven. The basil crisps up during the baking process and needless to say is delicious. Go on give it a try, you will not regret it. Although I have presented it as a kiddie recipe, it is equally good for adults. Perfect food to enjoy on the sofa before the TV.

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