There is something about baked pasta dishes which feel somehow more indulgent and satisfying than normal pasta. For me I also find I can squeeze more vegetables in and reduce the quantity of pasta per person.
I just made this for my husband and I but I know my son would love it. Mushrooms and prawns are two of his favourite things. That said, the prawns are optional and more for a protein source than flavour.
Prawn and Vegetable (or just vegetable) Pasta Bake - serves 2 with leftovers (or would easily serve 2 adults and a toddler)
160g Dried pasta, I used penne
60g sweet red pepper (capsicum), diced finely
150g Sliced Mushrooms
A little oil
1 tsp Sweet (not hot) smoked paprika
200g Home made tomato sauce (I used this recipe)
150g Frozen prawns, defrosted (or 120g chilled prawns), small ones are fine. (Optional)
200ml Milk, use full fat if cooking for a baby or toddler
1 tbsp Cornflour
80g Vintage or Extra mature Cheddar or Parmesan
Fry the mushrooms and pepper in the oil until slightly coloured. Put into a bowl. Cook the pasta to 1 minute short of the pack time suggested (my pack said to cook for 10-12 minutes so I cooked for 9). Rinse the pasta under a cold tap in a sieve to cool quickly.
Meanwhile make the white sauce by heating the milk in a microwave until boiling. Mix the cornflour with a splash of water to make a paste. Mix slowly into the boiling milk. If it doesn't thicken immediately put back into the microwave for 30 secs or so watching all the time (it can boil over).
Mix the tomato sauce, pasta, vegetables, prawns and paprika together and put into a baking dish. Top with a drizzle of the white sauce (it doesn't need to form a layer) and then sprinkle over the grated cheese.
I prepared this in advance and chilled the dish then cooked this in an oven from cold at 190oC, it took 25-30 minutes but if you preheated your oven and cooked immediately 20-25 minutes would probably work.
I had a portion left and reheated it the next day at work, it was nice to have something comforting from home for lunch.
If you liked this recipe, why not try this?