When I am short of time, I inevitably will turn to pastas, and more often than not, baked pasta. Baking pastas really work for me because I can do all my prep, make everything way in advance, like early in the morning, and all I need to do would be to chuck the casserole in the oven usually about 40 minutes before I want to serve dinner.
This is a quickie baked pasta because there is so little prep involved. The only prep that I had to do was to grate the carrot and dice the red peppers and an onion.
In a hot casserole, I added some olive oil. Into this, I added the diced onion. I cooked this for about 3-4 minutes, or until the onion became soft and translucent. Then I added minced garlic and sauteed that for about half a minute.
I added grated carrots and diced red pepper.
And continued cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes after which I transferred the contents of the Dutch oven into a bowl.
I added a little more oil in the Dutch oven. Once hot, I added the minced beef and cooked the beef until it turned brown,
The vegetables were transferred back into the Dutch oven. I added the chopped tomatoes, beef stock and water.
And some tomato paste, as well as a few bay leaves.
Then I added Spag Bog seasoning.
And salt and pepper.
I gave everything a quick stir, and turned the heat to low. The sauce was left to gently simmer for about 15 minutes.
In the mean time, I cooked the pasta.
I reserved some pasta water, and drained the pasta. Then the pasta was mixed with the sauce and transferred into a casserole. I added shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, and baked the pasta until the top had turned golden brown.
The pasta was served immediately.
While it was still piping hot and bubbling!
Baked Pasta Shells with Minced Beef, Capsicum and Carrot (Serves 8)
500g pasta - I used shells, but any pasta will do
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 carrots, grated
1 red capsicum, seeds removed and diced
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup beef (or chicken) stock
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 bay leaves
1/4 cup spaghetti bolognese seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely grounded black pepper
1/2 cup Cheddar, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped (optional)
1. Saute onion in olive oil until soft and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
2. Add carrot and capsicum. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until vegetables have wilted. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add a little more olive oil to the casserole. Cook the minced beef until browned.
4. Return vegetables back into casserole. Add chopped tomatoes, beef stock, water, tomato paste, bay leaves, spaghetti bolognese seasoning, salt and pepper.
5. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Cook pasta according to manufacturer's instructions, taking 3 minutes off the recommended cooking time.
7. Reserve some pasta water, drain the pasta.
8. Combine pasta with sauce. Transfer pasta and sauce into a casserole.
9. Top with cheese. Bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes, or until the top turns golden brown.
10. Serve immediately.