Something you will come to learn about me is that I’m not very good with measurements. It’s not that I don’t understand them, because I do, but I just tend not to bother with it. This is probably why I don’t bake very often. So, use your intuition and a bit of common sense when following my recipes!
Something I like to do when I have a spare hour or so, and I’m feeling up to it, is make a large meal that I can keep in the fridge or freezer and heat up when I fancy it. It saves cooking every day and only cooking for one, which can feel a bit pointless.
One of my favourite things to do this with is a pasta bake. I never made pasta bakes as a meat eater or vegetarian, so this was a new thing for me entirely and I’ve mastered making it absolutely delicious – I always go back for seconds.
- Dried pasta (not egg pasta!)
- Vegan cheese (to melt on the top)
- Oil for frying
- 2 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 Tin of Coconut Milk
- 1 or 2 Onions
- Clove of Garlic
- Fresh veg of your choice (I use peppers, brocolli & mushrooms)
- Frozen peas or sweetcorn (optional)
- Vegan sausages/vegan chicken-style pieces (optional)
- Tortilla chips (optional)
- Herbs and Spices (Salt, Pepper, Basil, Oregano, Chives, Thyme – it’s up to you!)
- So, to begin, set your pasta off to boil. It doesn’t need to be fancy looking like my pasta in the pictures, I just use whatever I have. I do like using tri-colour pasta though because colours are pretty. I usually add my frozen peas or sweetcorn to the pan of boiling pasta a little later on, as it’s quick and easy.
2. Chop up your onions, garlic and your fresh veg ready to add later on.
3. Add your chopped onions to a large frying pan – or even better, a wok – and get them started. Also add your garlic and some herbs and spices. Next add your chopped up peppers as these take a long time to soften (I intentionally leave mine to have a little crunchiness). If you would prefer them to be very soft, cook them for a while before adding the onions.
4. Add your sausages or chicken-style pieces to the frying pan (if desired). I like to use Linda McCartney sausages (especially the chorizo style ones), or Quorn vegan chicken style pieces. When using sausages, I chop them into smaller pieces once they have started to cook slightly.
5. Add your broccoli, and later your mushrooms.
6. Make sure everything is gently frying but don’t let it burn. Add your chopped tomatoes when everything is at least a little bit cooked (it will continue to cook in the sauce).
7. Once your pasta (and possibly peas/sweetcorn) is finished, drain it off and add the pasta to the large pan/wok and stir it in with the tomatoes and veg etc. Lower the temperature of the pan and allow the contents to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Then, add some more herbs and spices.
8. Add the contents of the coconut milk can, including the cream and the water, and mix. This makes the sauce really creamy and flavoursome.
9. Once you are satisified that everything is cooked, transfer it all into a large casserole dish.
10. Spread your vegan cheese on top of the dish (grated if possible). I find that Sainsbury’s free from dairy cheese range melts really well.
11. For a nice crispy finish, crush up some tortilla chips and spread them on top of the cheese.
12. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 180°C, or until the cheese is nicely melted (and not burning). Serve!