You gotta love ugly food. It needs eating just as much as pretty food, if not more, because it’s usually so delicious.
This enchilada pasta bake is kind of an amped-up version of my enchilada noodles from last year – everyone knows that pasta is best when it’s baked, so I smothered my enchilada-style pasta in a thick layer of refried beans and salsa, and topped it all with a bit of grated cheese to get nice and crispy in the oven…
The refried beans go a little crispy on top (i.e. the perfect thing to pick from the edges of the pan once you’re done), but underneath they’re still smooth and creamy, and they make a perfect thick sauce for the pasta.
Why I have never added refried beans to pasta before, I will never know.
It comes out of the oven looking pretty unassuming…
…but when you dig in through the creamy beans to the saucy pasta, you won’t be able to stop yourself from digging in.
Since pasta bake is one of my favourite winter warmers, I didn’t want this recipe to create too much unnecessary washing up – who wants to spend ages standing in front of the sink when your toes are going numb from the cold? So instead of dirtying a frying pan to pre-cook the vegetables, I just roasted them quickly in the same baking dish I was going to use for the casserole itself. The whole thing can be mixed together in the pan you cooked the pasta in, and then poured straight back into the same dish. Easy!
Sometimes laziness really does pay off.
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 100g mushrooms, diced
- 1tbsp oil
- 300g pasta (I used penne)
- 400g enchilada sauce (shop-bought or homemade)
- 4tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- Black pepper
- 1 x 435g tin of refried beans (or use homemade)
- 3tbsp fresh salsa
- 50g cheddar cheese, grated
- Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
- Toss the pepper and mushrooms in a little oil, and spread them in a single layer in the baking tray you'll use for your pasta bake (mine measured around 6 x 10 inches). Put them in the oven to roast a little while you're preparing the remaining ingredients.
- Boil the pasta for around 10 minutes until al dente. When it's ready, drain it and add the enchilada sauce and coriander, and season to taste.
- In a separate bowl, combine the refried beans and salsa.
- When the vegetables are just soft, add them to the pasta mixture, and mix to combine. Spread it out in the baking dish (careful, it will be hot!) and top with the refried bean mixture. Spread it out evenly and try to cover any visible pasta to prevent it from burning. Top with the grated cheese and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes, until the cheese is crispy.