Possibly one of the easiest ways to fill the family’s tums, here’s a few ways to make the classic pasta dish even tastier

There are so many variations on the classic pasta bake and practically everything works – all meats, fish, vegetables – and you can play around with the sauce too, whether it’s tomato-based or creamy and cheesy. Here are some ideas for twists you may not have tried yet.


1. Pasta bake with pesto

A light coating of green pesto elevates pasta from bland to delicious, and is a great addition to a bake. You can add a couple of teaspoons to white sauce (buy a ready-made one if you’re short of time), before assembling your dish. Pesto goes really well with chicken in a bake or use red pesto with roasted Mediterranean vegetables. Fantastic!

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2. Pasta bake with corned beef

If you have a tin of corned beef in the cupboard, instead of making the usual hash, try crumbling it into a pasta bake for a really filling dish. A white or cheese sauce goes well, and perhaps use a short-cut pasta such as the smaller macaroni you can find, or pasta bows. Corned beef is already salty, so taste first before adding any other seasoning.

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3. Pasta bake with pomodorino tomatoes and balsamic vinegar

For a very simple bake, roast a pack of flavoursome, ripe pomodorino tomatoes, sprinkled with sea salt and balsamic vinegar, then add to a cheese or white sauce with cooked pasta. Top with breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan and black pepper for a delicious meat-free supper. Crusty bread and green salad would be good accompaniments.

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4. Pasta bake with Greek style yogurt

Greek style yogurt is a great base for a creamy sauce to use in a pasta bake. Mix a tub with a can of chopped tomatoes or a carton of passata and pour over the pasta and any meat or veg you’re using before topping with seasoned breadcrumbs and baking. It’s a lighter alternative to a cheese sauce and much lower in fat.

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5. Pasta bake with mixed mushrooms and rosemary

Some varieties of mushroom, such as portobello and chestnut – have deep, earthy flavours that are brought out beautifully when lightly fried with butter and chopped rosemary. Oyster, shiitake and enoki all have their own characteristics and add even more variety. Stir the fried mushrooms into a simple white sauce – perhaps with a few drops of truffle oil – and cooked pasta for a gourmet vegetarian bake.

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6. Pasta bake with salmon

A can of pink or red salmon makes a filling protein-packed bake, as well as adding colour. To make the bake more piquant, you could add a pinch of paprika and a grinding of black pepper. Or, for a more gentle flavour, throw in a handful of capers or sliced black olives. 

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