Bolognese pasta bake recipe

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This Bolognese pasta bake makes a cheap and delicious family meal - and it's also a handy recipe for unexpected guests.

Bolognese pasta bake
  • Nut-free
Serves6
SkillEasy
Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 20 mins
Total Time1 hours 30 mins
Cost RangeCheap

This Bolognese pasta bake makes for a rich and meaty midweek meal.

This easy pasta bake is a bit like a cheat's version of a lasagne. We've layered a meaty classic bolognese with cooked penne and cheesy white sauce. Then there's a generous topping of more melted cheese to finish. The result is budget-friendly but absolutely packed with flavour - a real comfort dish. Check out our video below to see just how easy it is. Serve with a crisp green salad with a light dressing and, if you like, some garlic bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 700g (1lb 9oz) minced beef
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato purée
  • 300g (10oz) penne pasta
  • 25g (1oz) butter
  • 25g (1oz) flour
  • 450ml (¾ pint) milk
  • 100g (4oz) Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Basil leaves, to garnish

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Method

  1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry onion and garlic for 8-10 mins until softened. Add mince and brown over a high heat. Stir in the tomatoes, herbs and purée. Season well. Simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook the pasta in a pan of lightly salted boiling water according to instructions, until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  3. Heat butter in a large pan until melted then stir in the flour and cook for 1 min. Whisk in milk then bring to the boil, whisking all the time until the sauce has thickened. Simmer gently for 2 mins. Stir in half the Cheddar and season to taste. Stir in the pasta.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Spread meat sauce in a deep gratin dish. Top with the pasta and sauce. Sprinkle over rest of the Cheddar and Parmesan cheese. 
  5. Bake for 25-30 mins until bubbling and golden.

Tips for making bolognese pasta bake

To save on time (and calories), you could skip the white sauce and cover your mince and penne pasta with mozzarella, then bake for 10 minutes. For extra crunch on top, add a handful of breadcrumbs along with the cheese.

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Octavia Lillywhite
Octavia Lillywhite

Octavia Lillywhite is an award-winning food and lifestyle journalist with over 15 years of experience. With a passion for creating beautiful, tasty family meals that don’t use hundreds of ingredients or anything you have to source from obscure websites, she’s a champion of local and seasonal foods, using up leftovers and composting, which, she maintains, is probably the most important thing we all can do to protect the environment.