Spicy Vegetable Pasta Bake

I know, this is another non-innovative or boundary pushing dish, but it's one I really love.

I started making this when I was a student, hence no meat, but it's still super filling and probably one of my most comfiest, most heart-warming dishes in my repertoire. It's simple but damn delicious. As a student it was also a really great way of ensuring I was getting all the vitamins and goodness from loads of vegetables. I always used to choose eating well over going out so it wasn't a huge concern but I had zilcho monies and had to make everything stretch further, and I'm sure most of you will know how that feels.

It's a bit labour intensive, I always find pasta bakes are, but it's all worth it in the end, just for those really crispy bits of pasta on the top of the bake and the melted and browned mozzarella, just divine. I recently added in olives to this dish and they make a fab addition, even the boy, who isn't a great fan of olives absolutely loves them in this.

And if you're wondering why I use two green peppers and only one red (obviously you're wondering that) then I'll tell you now, it's because I *LOVE* green peppers the most. They're the best, I love their bitterness and just everything about them. Sorry yellow and orange pepper, you just don't fit the bill for this one.

Anyway, I've written out the recipe, you'll find it at the bottom of the post. And if anyone was wondering, a portion of this will cost you 8 Weight Watchers Pro Points, by my count. Not too shabby at all.

Spicy Vegetable Pasta Bake - Serves 4

What you will need:

250g Pasta, I've used rigatoni here but farfalle or penne or any other tube pasta would be perfect
1 ball of Mozzarella
1 Onion
3-4 Garlic Cloves
1 Chilli (red or green)
500g Passata
Tomato Purée
2 Green Peppers
1 Red Pepper
2 Medium Sized Courgettes
Mushrooms 300g or Whole Packet
Black Olives (however many you like, we use a whole jar (I also think de-stoned kalamata olives would be really well suited here too)
Chilli Flakes & Powder
Tobasco Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
Red Wine

What you need to do:

Dice the onions and grate the garlic cloves, chop up your chilli (de-seed if you will but I leave the seeds in)
Quickly chop up the peppers, I like nice big chunks so I don't chop too small as well as the courgette
Half your mushrooms or quarter them, whatever, again, big is good
Drain your olives
Heat a pan with an oil of your choosing, I use coconut, and sweat the onions with the garlic and chilli, make sure the heat isn't too high, we don't want to brown the onions
When the onions start turning translucent, chuck in the peppers and the courgette, mix together until slightly softened
Add the mushrooms, keep mixing
Pour in your passata, I always swirl some water in the empty carton to get the last bits of tomato and add it in too
Add your purée and season
Go to town on the seasoning, salt, pepper, mixed herbs (or fresh basil if you've got it), chilli flakes, chilli powder
Add a splash, glug or whatever of red wine, sprinkle in some worcestershire sauce, a little sprinkling of tobacco and stir stir stir
Add in the olives, mix them in, turn the heat down, place the lid on the saucepan and let simmer for about 20 mins
At the end of the 20 mins start pre-heating the oven to about 160c (fan) turn the heat up a little on the sauce pan and take off the lid, we want to start reducing the sauce now
Boil the kettle and get the pasta on the go
Just before the pasta is completely done, drain it - it should still have some crunch to it and will finish cooking in the oven
Get an oven proof dish, I use a rectangular pyrex dish - perfect for the job
It's up to you how you do this but I pour the pasta into the dish, then take the veggies off the heat and pour them in and mix in the dish - not the easiest way to do it but ho hum, saves on extra washing up I think
Slice up your mozzarella in to as many slices as you can, I normally end up with nine so I use eight and eat the smallest one :)
Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 mins
After 20 mins, take off the tin foil and bake for another 20 mins

Bish, bash, bosh, done.

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