Friday, 29 February 2008

Pasta Bake

Here's my meatless dinner for Friday again. I was going to make pizza but completely forgot to make the dough on Thursday night, oops. Instead I made a pasta bake. The first pasta bake I made when I was in high school used a recipe seen on adverts for a UK supermarket. It remains a starting point for most of my pasta bakes today!

For this incarnation I cooked up some puy lentils (far and away my favourite kind of lentil) in some broth with garlic (I cooked extra with extra liquid so that I can make soup with the rest over the weekend).

Meanwhile I made a tomato sauce (well actually I chopped some celery which I fried a little before adding a large can of Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce because I was in a hurry and then threw in some black pepper, basil and oregano), and cooked some pasta.

Mixed together pasta, sauce and lentils and placed a layer in a baking dish. Added a thin layer of shredded fresh mozzarella (I've also used the shredded processed type of mozzarella made with skimmed milk which I like too, but fresh is better in my opinion) followed by the rest of the pasta mixture. Finally I grated some Parmesan cheese on top and put in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minute to get the cheese bubbly and a bit of crispness to the edges of the pasta on top.

This is always a popular dinner in our house, I sometimes use cheddar cheese, with or without the other kinds. I also make it with some, or several of the following with or without lentils and celery:
bacon chunks
minced beef
quorn chunks (when I lived in the UK)
roasted red pepper
... the possibilities go on and on it's such a good basic idea that you can use what ever bits and pieces you have in the pantry, fridge or freezer for.

Also this week I have made what I think must be my first loaf of bread this year amazingly enough. It's my "usual" version of the No-Knead Bread recipe (using 1 1/2 cups white bread flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour, 1/2 cup oat flour, 1/4 cup each barley and rye flour plus handfuls of sesame and poppy seeds).

I want to start making more of our bread again, and supporting local bakeries when I don't get around to baking myself (that part I've been doing, possibly too well, so far this year!). I like using the no-knead type recipes a lot of the time (as in this case) since it seems more possible with a toddler around who is liable to "need" me just as I'm in the middle of kneading or some other important step! Still I resolve to try some more of the recipes in the Bread Bible this year. In the no-knead bread department though I'm determined to make this chocolate bread I saw at flickr very soon!

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