Pasta bakes aren’t sexy. They’re suburban soccer mum food. They’re cheap, convenient, pretty easy and filling (bit like me). I’ve not really been a pasta bake person, but that’s probably something to do with the fact I didn’t grow up in a pasta bake eating family. I did make Pasticcio for this blog, some time ago now, which is creamy and meaty and delicious and definitely not cheap, convenient or easy, but I suppose is technically a bake of the pasta kind.
Anyway, I’ve made a couple now, and this is the refined version, much tastier than the original shitty one I came up with, which you have happily been spared. My version below delivers a healthy 6 portions. Well budget. WELL RECESSION.
(I am still coughing, in case you wondered. Coughing like a consumptive on their final day at an ineffective Swiss resort. I can only assume my diaphragm and intercostal muscles are incredibly fit by now with all the heaving and hawing. Very sexy).
1 packet of pasta – whatever you like. Used small penne this time which is fine, although rigatoni would be a personal choice
Bout half a piquant chorizo
3-4 chicken breasts
1 bottle of passata, think it comes in litre bottles
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
I also added some old-ish pomodorinos that I had lying about, going soft, so added a good handful of those, chopped.
Heaped teaspoon of smoked chipotle paste (or whatever substitute you fancy, or nothing I guess if a bit of burn isn’t your thing. Wuss).
Some spring onions, chopped, for when it’s done.
Stick the oven on at about 170C, and some water in a saucepan, salted (NEVER OILED DO NOT EVER OIL YOUR PASTA WATER JESUS HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU?), to boil.
Stick the pasta in to cook.
Slice your chorizo in your preferred way. For pasta bake I have decided I like thin rounds. Gently fry the chorizo but don’t let them get all crispy and burnt, like I did a bit, this time.
Chop your chicken into chunky bits, delivering the off-cuts to the dog (in her bowl, we’re still on the re-training regime), and add to the frypan. Once they’ve started to brown, add your chopped or minced garlic and the chipotle paste. Don’t be put off by the fact that 1 teaspoon of chipotle paste seems very little for a whole packet of pasta. It’ll be plenty. Last time I put in two and my head blew off. Took 3 days to grow back.
When you estimate the chicken is about a third cooked, add the passata and tomatoes, and season. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 mins or so, just to rich up the whole thing. If you want more tomatoey tang, add a big blob of tomato paste.
Your pasta should’ve been cooked by now – I stop the pasta just short of proper al dente, and that way it doesn’t descend into total sog once the thing has been oven-baked. Drain and mix through the sauce.
Chuck the whole thing into a big baking dish. Fear not if it seems a bit wet and moist, you want it that way. Wet and moist like a dog’s nose after an exciting time spent sniffing other dog’s butts.
This time I grated over a mixture of parmesan and cheddar. Sometimes I mix parmesan and breadcrumbs. It’s up to you.
Put it in the oven for about 20-30 mins, till it starts to get crispy on top and smell good.
I dropped the foil at this point. It unravelled. Below is my attempt at re-ravelling. Foil doesn’t like being re-ravelled.
Look – cooked pasta bake!
Call in your mythical children from their soccer games or whatever it is you have at home. I have a boyfriend, so I called him in from the lounge room.
Serve with salad, ideally. I like some spring onions, chopped, sprinkled over the top.