As you probably well know, I am a pasta lover and in winter I cannot think of anything better than a pasta bake. I prefer tortellini rather than ravioli as I find they can sometimes be quite empty, tortellini stay better together and I love the shape.
There is something about the crunchy layer of melted cheese on top that makes me salivate and excited. I wrote in a previous post about a chorizo pasta bake, how I remember the smell coming home from school, of chorizo and cheese impregnating the house. I love pasta bakes. I have to admit that sometimes I just cannot be bothered to put it in the oven and have to wait a further 20-30 min but this is worth it. Trust me.
For this I find it is better to grate your own cheese as packaged grated cheese has a coating that makes it harder to melt.
Here is what you need for 2 people (double for 4):
1 packet of your favourite tortellini (I like the ham filled ones)
250g of mince meat
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bay leaf
100ml tomato sauce
20ml single cream
70g parmesan grated
50g mature cheddar
Crumbs of blue cheese (optional)
20g butter, divided in 3 or 4 pieces
1/2 tsp of Italian herbs
1tsp of olive oil
Preheat the oven at 200degrees. Heat up the oil in a pan and cook the mince meat. Once it is a bit pink, lower the heat, add the tomato sauce, garlic, herbs and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Stir and add the cream. While this is slowly simmering, cook the pasta for a couple minutes and before discarding, keep a cup of the cooking water. Mix the pasta with the sauce in a big bowl.
In a oven proof dish, pour half the cup of water and half the pasta, put a layer of parmesan cheese and add the other half of pasta and sauce. If you want to add blue cheese, add it at this stage over the tortellini. Sprinkle with both cheeses, first with the cheddar and then the Emmental cheese. Place the little butter nuggets of butter in different places on top of the cheese. Put it in the oven for a good 20-30 minutes making sure it stays golden on top and keeping an eye it doesn't burn. Otherwise put it in the oven for about 10minutes and then turn the grill on and cook for an additional 10-15minutes.
The top should be crunchy and cheesy and the inside will be warming and comforting.
You can serve it with some garlic bread and a spinach salad on the side.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!