This pasta bake takes some relatively humble ingredients and transforms them in a way you didn’t think possible. Not only is this pasta bake so simple to make, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating it too often because it is bulked out with vegetables and pulses. What’s more, it is incredibly cheap to make taking a storecupboard staple to a new level.
To save all the trouble of making a tomato sauce from scratch, I use a tin of baked beans as the sauce, adding a tin of chopped tomatoes to bulk it out. This means that my pasta sauce costs just £0.55 to make and you get more than your Dolmio jar. Of course you do need to season it well to get rid of the baked bean flavour but this isn’t a huge problem.
To make it even healthier, I use hardly any oil in this recipe using the oil from roasting the sausages in the oven, adding rich meaty flavour and means only about 2 tsp of oil is used in this recipe. If you want to add some more vegetables like roasted courgettes, peppers or aubergines, feel free. I use finely shredded spring green leaves which, when they cook, give the appearance of fresh basil leaves so you could kid someone into thinking you made your own sauce but we know it’s a tin of baked beans.
Here are some other food bloggers’ recipes using pasta and baked beans:
300g dried penne, cooked for 1 minute less than according to packet instructions, drained
4 pork sausages
½ white onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
60g frozen sweetcorn
60g spring greens, finely shredded
1 x 400g tin of baked beans
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste
½ tsp dried chilli flakes, optional
25g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
25g feta cheese, cubed
Roast the sausages in a foil lined baking tin at 200°C for 20 – 25 minutes, turning halfway through so they are evenly browned. Once cooked, drain the oil into a large saucepan and place onto a medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and sweat down for 5 minutes until the onions start to turn translucent and soften. Add the sweetcorn and cook further until defrosted. Toss through the spring greens until they start to wilt and soften. You may need to separate the strands as they do tend to clump together.
Once wilted, add in the baked beans and chopped tomatoes. Fill the chopped tomatoes tin halfway up with water and swill the tin and add the water. Bring the whole thing up to the boil and then season accordingly, adding enough sugar to balance the bitterness of the tomatoes and chilli flakes if you want.
Once seasoned and boiled, you need to bring the sauce to the consistency to coat the back of a spoon. Create a slurry of cornflour and the sauce (mix them in a bowl together) and add to the sauce to thicken. Chop the sausages in half lengthways and slice into 8 pieces each. Mix through the chopped sausages.
In an ovenproof dish, add the penne pasta. Pour over the sauce and mix together so the pasta and sauce are evenly distributed. Sprinkle over the cheddar and feta evenly and bake the pasta for about 25 minutes until the top is crisp and the cheese melted. The feta does not melt but turns brown on top.
If you want to store this for the week ahead, allow to cool before splitting into 4 microwaveable plastic containers. Freeze until needed.
To reheat, I found that 7 minutes on high was ideal. Heat for 3 minutes and stir and continue to heat for a period of 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. To serve, sprinkle with feta cheese and serve with red cabbage slaw.
This meal would earn me 4 points following my new weight loss plan for 2016 which you can find more about here.