Beef & mushroom ragu pasta bake

It looks quite a treat, doesn’t it?

A rich, unctuous pasta bake plated next to a side of blanched & seasoned spinach.

However, if there’s one rule in life which is generally a good one to bear in mind, it’s that looks can be very, very deceiving.

There is nothing extravagant or unique about this dish. It’s not going to win any competitions for looks or flavours, but it is a simple, homely comforting food that is perfect for our current Melbourne winters.

This is the kind of dinner that you make to feed a family of 4 when the budget is stretched a little thin, the weather is cold outside and you want something hearty and filling that will satisfy both the tastebuds as well as the wallet.

Beef & Mushroom Ragu Pasta Bake

Ingredients
1/2 onion
2 sticks celery
2-3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
250g mushrooms
500g beef mince
2 tbsp reduced salt tomato paste
1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes
250mL red wine (can be replaced with beef stock)
1 tsp dried oregano

Salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups barely cooked pasta (go with a penne or fusilli to catch the sauce) – you want it al dente or a little less cooked than that!
1/2 cup freshly grated mozarella
1/4 cup pine nuts

1. Dice your onion and celery into uniform pieces and also clean and dice the mushroom into larger pieces (as mushroom shrinks as it cooks). Heat up a little olive oil in a deep frying pan and saute the celery, onion and garlic till the onion is softened and translucent. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Add the mince and cook together, breaking up any clumps that form. Once the beef mince is cooked through, add the mushroom and stir through till the mushroom has cooked.

3. Add the tomato paste and stir it through, then add the crushed tomatoes and wine or stock and bring it to a slow simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or till the liquid is reduced and thickened. Make sure to give the mixture a stir every now and then so nothing catches and burns on the bottom.

4. Pour half the sauce into a large 20cm x 30cm baking tray (or roughly equivalent size, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference), then layer the pasta in the middle.

6. Add the remaining pasta sauce on top then gently mix it all together.

5. Add your grated mozarella over the top, then scatter over the pine nuts. Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then serve immediately with a side of bitter greens.

Unfortunately this is not one of those dishes that freezes well, but I have found that it will generously serve a family of 4 with one or two serves left over (depending on how voracious your diners are). And those leftover serves tend to disappear pretty quickly, so the lack of freezing shouldn’t deter you from trying this out for your family!

Unfortunately all I had on me the day I made this was lots of spinach, but lightly sauteed in some garlic-infused olive oil, it was a lovely green and homely side dish to this rather lovely pasta bake.

Comments

  1. looks fantastic Ellie.
    I haven’t done a pasta bake this winter yet, but this makes me want to do one!

  2. oh, I love that last pic!

    have a nice day,
    Paula

  3. Loving the pine nuts! This looks wonderfully tasty

  4. Simple and yum!

  5. I really think pasta bakes are perfect for winter. Actually I think they’re perfect for anytime ;)

    Wei-Wei

  6. Iron Chef Shellie – Thanks babe :) I think pasta bakes are one of those winter comfort foods that are just for quiet nights in with a video :) easy, filling and slightly lazy/slovenly…but I enjoy them now and then :)

    Paula – Thank you :)

    Beth – Hehehe, I’m a pine-nut addict :D

    Fiona – That sums it up :)

    Wei-Wei – Well, most of the time :) The summers in Australia get a bit too hot for baking anything :P

  7. My kids would like this, as long as I cut the mushrooms up small enough they do not see them.

  8. This dish looks very yummy. I agree with Ada on hiding the mushrooms for the kids.

  9. this looks yummy :o can’t wait to try it

  10. Wins my approval as a mom. It’s economical and fabulous.

  11. I think this could definitely win competitions! Pasta just screams winter comfort food for me! This sounds delicious. I love the process shots too! :D

  12. What a great winter recipe. Love the flavors. In this part of the world it’s summer though, so this dish will have to wait a while to be cooked by me :)
    Magda

  13. i cannot even imagine heating up my place right now by making this kind of food, but it sure makes me hungry to look at the photos

  14. @Ada – LOL! They have the same mushroom problem as my kid sister then :)

    @Asianmommy – I can’t understand the lack of mushroom love! But thankfully, if you slice anything small enough then it can be hidden in a dish like this :)

    @Jane – Please let me know if you do :)

    @Wizzythestick – It’s very much a midweek budget meal to please the masses :)

    @Betty @ The Hungry Girl – Thanks for the lovely comment hon :)

    @my little expat kitchen – This whole opposite ends of the globe thing is a bit frustrating! Myself, I can’t wait till we get blueberries back in season again!

    @justcooknyc – Thanks for the lovely comment, and I can certainly understand not wanting to turn on the oven in the middle of summer ;-)

  15. hey!

    u said it was freezable. should i freeze it before frying it or after? i tried to freeze it immediately after i prepared it (before frying) and everything became a clump which disintegrated extremely easily when dropped in oil! it was however very delicious :)

  16. oh no i meant my comment for the “cheap and easy student fare”. the tuna burger thing :P

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