I've been meaning to write about this recipe for positively ages as it's my most favourite pasta bake but until this weekend I haven't been able to get a picture of it. This time, though, I was determined to get a couple of snaps before it was all devoured and, as you can see, I succeeded.
I've always loved sausagey pasta sauces and this one works particularly well with the addition of a layer of cheesy white sauce. The sauce itself has bags of flavour thanks to the addition of red wine and tomato puree, and the inclusion of carrot and spinach make for a pretty well balanced meal.
This isn't a one-pot meal by any means as there are a number of steps involved but it's perfectly fine to prepare it a few hours in advance and leave it covered up until you're ready to put it in the oven. The sausage sauce could also be made in advance and either frozen or kept in the fridge for a couple of days.
I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine many years ago and have made it over and over since then. The perfect Sunday night dinner!
Sausage Pasta Bake
(taken from BBC Good Food Magazine long ago)
For the sausage sauce
400g good quality pork sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
150ml red wine
300ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp tomato puree
For the white sauce
50g plain flour
freshly grated nutmeg
500g rigatoni or penne
200g fresh spinach
140g mature cheddar, grated
1) Slit the sausages and remove them from their skins, then chop them into small pieces. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the sausages and fry until lightly coloured. Add the carrot, then stir in the wine, stock, tomato puree and season. Bring the sauce to the boil, the simmer uncovered, for about 15 minutes until thickened. Taste and season then set aside.
2) To make the white sauce put the butter, flour and milk in a pan. Gently heat, whisking, until thickened and smooth. Add a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg, season, then simmer for 2 minutes.
3) Preheat the oven to 190c/gas 5/fan 170c. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir well then cook until tender. Remove from the heat, stir in the spinach and, when just wilted, drain well.
4) Tip half the pasta into a shallow ovenproof dish, about 2.2 litres/4 pints, and level. Spoon over the sausage sauce, then cover with the remaining pasta. Pour the white sauce evenly over the top and sprinkle with cheddar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Leave for 5 minutes before serving.