Hidden Veggie Pasta Bake

One thing I get asked for quite a lot is recipes that have hidden vegetables in them for fussy kids and, in my case, a fussy husband, so here is my solution! A cheesy, tomatoey pasta bake that has hidden veg in the sauce, even my husband didn’t notice until after I told him!

It’s fairly simple to whip together, and if your family are not quite as fussy, you can opt to leave some of the veggies whole for a bit of texture. I left the peppers whole because I know my husband likes them.

Hidden Veggie Pasta Bake

Ingredients (serves four)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small aubergine, cubed
1 large courgette, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
2 tsp dried oregano
1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
600g tomato passata
25ml double cream
Small handful fresh basil
375g rigatoni
1 ball mozzarella
Parmesan, for grating

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 180c fan. Place your sliced aubergine, courgette and red pepper on two baking trays (or one, if you have one big enough, but you don’t want the veg to be too crowded). Coat the veggies in some olive oil and season with salt. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until soft and golden.
2. Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp of oil to a large, non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Add the diced red onion and cook for five minutes until soft, then add the garlic and oregano and cook for a further minute.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar and bubble until evaporated, then add the passata, season with salt and cook for 10-15 minutes over a medium-low heat. At the same time, get a large pot of salted water on to boil and cook your pasta for two minutes less than packet instructions.
4. Take the roasted vegetables out of the oven and place in a food processor or blender (keep the oven on). Blitz to a rough paste, then add it to the tomato sauce along with the cooked and drained pasta. Stir everything together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with the double cream and the fresh basil, roughly torn, and stir to combine.
5. Pour the lot into a large baking dish, tear up the mozzarella ball and scatter it on top, along with a good grating of parmesan. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling. Watch as your fussy “I don’t like vegetables” family devour this dish with glee and congratulate yourself on a job well done!

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