Be whisked off to the French countryside with this vegetarian pasta bake. Classic flavours of onion, mushroom and thyme are hidden beneath a cheesy crust for a warm hug of a family meal.
To avoid overcooked baked pasta, the pasta is slightly undercooked at this stage – it will finish cooking in the hot sauce when baked in the oven.
2 vegetable stock cubes
200g penne pasta
150g green beans
Prep ingredients: Preheat the oven to 220C. Grease a 1.5L (6 cup) baking dish. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil for the pasta. Thinly slice the onion and mushrooms. Trim the beans. Pick the thyme leaves, discarding the tough stems. Crush or finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Coarsely grate the cheese.
Cook pasta: Cook the pasta in the pan of boiling water for 8 mins or until just under al dente (see Kitchen 101). Reserve 250ml (1 cup) cooking water, then drain the pasta. Reserve the pan. Crumble 1 stock cube* into a heatproof jug, add the reserved cooking water and stir to dissolve.
Brown mushrooms: Meanwhile, heat 20g butter and 1 tsp olive oil in a medium deep frypan over medium heat. Cook the onion, thyme and garlic, stirring, for 3-4 mins until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until browned and tender. Sprinkle over 1 tbs plain flour and cook, stirring, for 1 min or until the flour turns golden.
Cook pasta bake: Add the stock and 60ml (¼ cup) milk to the mushroom mixture. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins or until slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pasta, season well with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into the baking dish and scatter over the cheese. Bake for 10-12 mins until golden. Stand for 5 mins.
Serve up: Meanwhile, fill the reserved pan with water and bring to the boil. Cook the beans for 2 mins or until tender. Drain, then season with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta bake with the beans and enjoy!