“This is lovely but it’s got no taste!” exclaimed my husband. I silently agreed with him. I was really very disappointed with my first attempt at making this. The recipe was an adaptation of a Gino D’Acampo’s baked pasta with meat sauce and Parmesan cheese. As we’re not big meat eaters I thought I’d just replace the meat with Quorn. Unfortunately it didn’t work, and as my husband said, it had little taste. It needed more robust flavourings!
My second attempt was much better! This was because I added garlic, chilli, Tabasco sauce and basil. These additional ingredients made it taste delicious.
In his book Gino’s Pasta, Gino writes that his recipe (with meat) comes from the town where he was born – Torre del Greco, in the south of Italy. When he fronted Red Nose Day a few years ago he chose this recipe, as it is one of his favourites. Gino uses fettuccine in his recipe but I used penne which is just as good.
If you want to make this as a meat dish, simply replace the Quorn with 500g minced beef and 500g minced pork and omit the garlic, chilli, basil and tabasco sauce from the recipe. Gino cooks the sauce slowly and uncovered for 2 hours.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small red or green chilli, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 900g minced quorn
- 2 glasses dry red wine
- 700ml passata (sieved tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 200ml vegetarian stock
- Dash of tobasco sauce
- 3 tablespoons chopped basil
- 500g Penne (or fettuccine)
- 45g butter
- 4 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs
- 3 mozzarella balls drained and sliced (do not use buffalo mozzarella)
- 80g grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion, garlic, chilli, carrot and celery for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the minced quorn and continuing cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously until the quorn is slightly coloured all over. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the wine, stir well and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.
- Pour in the passata, tomato purée, stock, tabasco sauce and chopped basil and turn down the heat and cook, uncovered, for 30 mins, stirring the sauce occasionally.
- Once the sauce is ready, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente.
- Drain and tip the pasta back into the same saucepan.
- Pour in the prepared sauce and gently stir everything together to allow the flavours to combine
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
- Butter a 30cm gratin dish and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs.
- Spoon half the pasta mixture into the dish and scatter over the sliced mozzarella. Cover with the remaining pasta mixture.
- Dot the surface with the remaining butter. And sprinkle over the parmesan.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes until it is bubbling and blistering.