Pasta baked with Veggie Bolognese

Big baked pasta shells filled with vegetarian bolognaise

Ingredients

Serves: 2

  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large glass red wine
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 ½ tbs tomato purée
  • 2 cups chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 handfuls vegetarian mince
  • Fresh halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 big handful fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Conchiglie pasta or any other giant pasta (enough to fill two baking dishes)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese to top

The quantities specified will easily cater for four people. If cooking for two, don’t bother halving the ingredients; it’s just as easy to make two batches and save one for later in the week.  It tastes especially good when baked for the second time, just ensure you take it out of the oven 10 minutes early when baking for the first time.

The amount of red wine/seasoning may seem excessive but bolognese should be full of flavour and as the recipe doesn’t contain beef, I up the seasoning to compensate. I’ve specified vegetarian mince but this is really an optional ingredient; if you prefer not to use mince, simply increase the quantity of mushrooms.

Method

  1. Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil. I always put the onions in just before the garlic to absorb some of the heat as burned garlic will ruin a dish. Simmer on a low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the red wine and bubble for around 3-4 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, purée, Worcestershire sauce, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, oregano, thyme and seasoning then simmer for a minimum of 10 minutes. If you have time cook it for longer – the flavour will become much more intense.
  4. Add the mince and cook for a further five minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil.
  5. Place the big pasta shells in the baking dishes on their backs and spoon or pour the bolognese into the shells. Top with cheese and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes at 200°C.

Extra: If you have time or want to make this dish a bit more special, make a lasagne-style white sauce to top the pasta instead of the cheese.

  1. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan and add 1 tbsp flour. Mix to form a paste and slowly add one large glass of milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth and starts to thicken.
  2. Add two thirds of the cheese then pour over the pasta. Top with the remaining cheese and sprinkle with parmesan if you have any.

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