I love a pasta bake. Not a ‘from the jar throw it over-pasta bake’ but a gently roasted, crunchy topped recipe that smells like Autumn.
This recipe is one of my favourites- it is as simple as it is delicious, with very little chopping involved.
If you’ve never used fennel before, this is a great introduction to the vegetable. Simply roast it with tomatoes, onion and olive oil to bring out it’s delicate aniseed flavour, which balances perfectly with the tomatoes.
If there is a description of comfort food this is it- creamy, roasted sauce poured over perfectly al dente baked pasta, pine nuts and a crispy topping.
200g cherry tomatoes
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped roughly, green tops discarded
1 red onion, chopped roughly
3 tbsp olive oil
150g dried penne pasta (egg-free)
6 sundried tomatoes, gently drained of oil
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 slice of bread, grated into breadcrumbs
2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C/ Gas mark 5
2. Add the cherry tomatoes, fennel and onion to a baking tray and pour over 2 tbsp of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20-24 minutes until the onion is slightly browned.
3. In the meantime, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for 8-10 minutes. Drain and place in an oven-proof dish.
4. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and spoon into a high powered blender. Add the sundried tomatoes and the additional 1 tbsp of olive oil and blend until semi-smooth. Pour the sauce over the pasta and add in the pine nuts. Stir to combine.
5. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs, increase the temperature of the oven to 200C/ Gas mark 6 and bake for 10-15 minutes until the topping is crispy and slightly browned.
6. Scatter with parsley and serve immediately.