It instantly reminds me of my mother and dark, rainy nights snuggled in front of a cosy fire when we lived in the country. Happily eating her pasta bakes covered in crochet blankets!
I love the way food is such an experience that certain foods are linked for us with events and times of our lives. Food really does tell a story and for me the pasta bake was one of my first comfort foods.
Now I make it for my kids too, but with a healthy twist, now we are also not gluten intolerant but I like to do a large amount of our meals and snacks gluten free as I believe it is more kinder on the bowels!!
This dish can be whipped up in not very long at all, it freezes really well and makes fantastic leftovers and school lunches too or a bring a plate dish for the next BBQ!
If you like pasta bake or macaroni cheese you will love this healthy version.
Gluten Free Vegetarian Pasta Bake
- 1 box of gluten free pasta, cooked according to packet directions.
(I also find it helps to add a little dash of oil in the boiling water with gluten free pasta to stop it all sticking together.
- 2 tablespoons gluten free flour
- 500ml almond, soy or dairy milk ( I used almond.)
- half a teaspoon nutmeg ground
- 2 teaspoons paprika (look for a really good quality one - it makes a lot of difference!)
- !/2 cup broccoli, very finely chopped.
- 2 carrots peeled and finely grated.
- 4 stalks celery, finely chopped.
- 3 large tomatoes. 2 chopped one sliced.
- 1 zucchini, peeled and grated.
- 1 cup grated cheese.
- Freshly chopped parsley to taste ( I used about a good handful ).
- Fresh and thinly chopped chives to taste. (I used about 9 stalks).
- 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard (or to taste)
- 1 free range egg.
- 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes (optional)
- himalayan salt - to taste
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped.
- Cook gluten free pasta according to directions, rinse very lightly and then drained and set aside.
- Very, (extra very for fussy eating kids) chop the broccoli
- Grate the carrot and zucchini.
- Place the vegetables into a mixing bowl or even straight into the baking dish.
- Place the butter into a saucepan and melt slowly over a low heat.
- Once melted add in the flour, stir constantly for 1 minute.
- Add small amounts of the milk stirring the whole time until they are combined with the flour mix, keep doing this until all the milk has been used and it is a nice consistency. Use a whisk of needed to make sure it is nice and smooth.
- Season with the nutmeg, paprika and a pinch of himalayan salt and add in the mustard. Taste.
- Add in the cheese and stir through until melted in. Taste again add more mustard or salt and pepper if needed.
- Let the sauce cool a bit and then whisk in the egg.
- Mix everything together except the sliced tomatoes and a small amount of the chopped mixed herbs.
- Pour into a deep baking dish top with the sliced tomato and some of the fresh herbs.
- Bake at 180' fan forced for 20 minutes or until nice and golden on top.
- Serve on its own as a simple dinner or with a nice fresh salad with a zesty dressing and optional garlic bread for a great tasty meal.
- This dish is great for leftovers and school lunchboxes.
- Make and freeze ahead for those tired nights.
- Add some chili for more punch.
- Add mushrooms at the last step before cooking.
- For VEGANS, leave out the egg, make the white sauce with olive oil in place of butter and leave out the cheese, add another half cup of milk when making the sauce and instead add savoury yeast flakes for a lovely cheesey flavour.
- Kids love the cheesey flavour. You can make it even stronger my adding a strong flavoured cheese that is suitable or more grated cheese.
- Freeze lunch sized amounts in container for easy lunchboxes and pack on the day with a fresh salad or chopped raw crunchy vegetables.
Live Well. Eat Beautiful. Stay Calm. Be Active.