Okay, so a big dish of pasta loaded with cheese might not be your first choice on a diet. I totally get that. If you’re seriously watching your figure, it might be something you want to avoid. But with #ThisGirlEats, it’s all about making conscious decisions to choose healthier options without completely boycotting the things I love – like oodles of pasta and cheese!
There are plenty of reasons this dish is a more nutritious choice than most bowls of pasta. It’s made with a fresh, light tomato sauce, not a heavy cream base, and replaces the usual chicken or mince meat bulk with lots of vegetables instead. It comes in at around 545 calories per person, but it’s a hearty dish, easy and cheap to make, and packed with goodness whilst also satisfying those comfort food cravings.
So, this is how I did it…
1. Stick the pasta in a pot of boiling water and cook according to packet instructions – let’s say 10-15 minutes, ish.
2. Fry the onion and peppers for a minute or two on a pretty high heat before adding the mushroom, cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn, along with some garlic and tomato purée, for a total of 5 minutes or so. You want the vegetables to soften, but still have some texture. No-one wants a bowl of mush!
3. Pour the passata into the pan, throw in your seasoning and cook through for another 5 minutes or so on a medium heat.
4. Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce. Layer the combo in an ovenproof dish and top each layer with cheese – one layer of pasta, top with cheese, one layer of pasta, top with cheese, etc. Finish with hefty sprinkle of oregano.
5. Cook in oven on around 200 degrees for another 5 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle a tiny dash of parmesan on top to finish it off.
140g Wholewheat Pasta – Combino Wholewheat Fusilli – 45p – Lidl
1 Carton of Passata – Smartprice Passata – 35p – ASDA
2 Medium Onions, Diced – Grower’s Selection Onions – 15p – ASDA
1 Bell Pepper, Diced – Red Pepper – 49p – Lidl
5 Mushrooms, Diced – Button Mushrooms – 68p – Morrisons
5 Cherry Tomatoes, Halved – Grower’s Selection Cherry Tomatoes – 75p – ASDA
3 Tbsp of Sweetcorn (Fresh or Frozen) – Green Grocers Super Sweet Corn – 79p – Lidl
1 Cup of Grated Low Fat Cheddar Cheese – Half Fat Mature Grated British Cheese – £1.90 – ASDA
1 Cup of Grated Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese – Light Mozzarella – 49p – ASDA
Sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese – Fresh Shaved Parmesan – £1.60 – Sainsbury’s
We want this to be as packed with flavour as possible, so make sure everything about this dish is seasoned well. Salt the water for the pasta, for a start. Follow that by adding some dried garlic whilst frying off the vegetables and, once the passata is in the pan, throw in some salt, pepper, garlic flakes, dried basil, dried oregano and a pinch of chilli flakes if you fancy a kick. And, finally, before you pop your pasta bake into the oven, sprinkle a generous touch of dried oregano on top.