One pot bakes are a winter delight for me when I am too lazy to stand in the kitchen for long to cook. This recipe like many others was born to use the veg and meat in the fridge. It takes less than an hour to create this delicious pasta dinner for 2-3 people. You can reduce or bulk up this recipe, you need not be that precise. I made this last week for a dinner with my partner and after 2 servings I still have some much needed leftovers.
Vegetables : Adding vegetables of your choice makes it a little healthy. I chose peppers and mushrooms, you can go for beans or broccoli or even fresh garden peas. Everything taste great in a pasta bake.
Cream : I chose to add Elmlea cream which is a dairy cream alternative in the UK. It gives just the same flavour and texture. But you can choose to go for dairy too. I would suggest go for single cream instead of heavy or double cream.
Meatballs : I have used the reduced fat meatballs, they are store bought. You can make your own too.
Pasta : This recipe has to be made with Orzo. It plays with your mind and you get the rice feeling while you have these tiny plumpy pasta grains. I love Orzo and have used them in this easy and delicious Lamb Youvetsi
Red Pesto Paste : Now this wonder ingredient is what gives this dish a lovely flavour. You should get a good quality red pesto made of red peppers and tomato laced in oil. Be generous to add it to your dish. I used Gino D’ Acampo the celebrity chef’s organic red pesto.
Okay, so lets dive into the recipe and bake a glorious pasta dinner.
- 2 cups Orzo pasta
- 12 meatballs. I used store bought with reduced fat
- 100 gms or half cup of sliced mushroom
- 150 gms or 1 cup of mixed diced pepper
- Olive oil about 2-3 tbsp
- 1 large brown onion
- 3 medium garlic cloves finely diced
- 2-3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 750 ml low salt chicken stock
- 1/2 pack of Elmlea cream.You can use about 100 ml of any other single or double cream
- 1/2 bottle of good quality red pesto. This would be about 4-5 tbsp. I used Gino’s Red pesto
- 3/4th cup of passata. You can also put 1/2 cup of tomato puree and dilute it in 1/2 cup water. Remember passata is cooked and gives a little midler flavour than the sharp one from tomato paste.
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil to garnish
- Preheat oven to 200 C fan
- In a large heated skillet add about 1 tbsp olive oil and brown the meatballs on all sides. You dont have to cook them completely. Remove them on a paper towel once they are brown on all sides which will be 2-3 minutes.
- In the same skillet add another 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add chopped onion and garlic and saute for few min till they turn translucent. Do not burn or brown.
- Add the peppers and and mushrooms and mix it together. Since it will be all baked you dont have to really cook the vegetables now.
- Add the red pesto paste and paprika and mix it all together very well. Cook for a min so the flavours come together.
- Next add passata/tomato puree and mix well. If its sticking to your pan add little water.
- Add the cream and mix. The mixture will turn very creamy and start bubbling.
- Add orzo and mix it to ensure its coated well with the mixture
- Place the meatballs in the skillet and pour the chicken stock.
- Mix the mixture well. Ensure pasta is not sitting at the bottom. If you feel it has less water please feel free to add more.
- Add salt and pepper. Bear in mind the stock also has salt.
- Cover with the lid and shove it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
- Once done, you can grate parmesan on it and cover the lid and let it rest for atleast 25-30 min. The pasta absorbs the liquids when its resting. So if you see some liquid, just give it time to rest, it will be soaked and the pasta will be very creamy
- Serve with more grated parmesan and basil.
Final thoughts : It’s a great one pot pasta bake when you have little time to spend on preparation. It’s more of assembling everything together and shoving it in the oven to have the flavours all work their magic. You can also make this dish as vegetarian by omitting the meatballs and adding only vegetables OR replace with tofu or Indian cottage cheese. My tip would be to use mid-size cauliflower pieces.
Try this hearty bake and if one pot meals is your thing give this one a go to
Until next time, eat healthy.