4 ½cups(400g) dried pasta shapes (I used rigatoni)
1large onion peeled and chopped
1red bell pepper de-seeded and chopped
1yellow bell pepperde-seeded and chopped
2clovesgarlic peeled and minced
1 1/3cups(200g) leftover cooked hamcubed or shredded
2cups250g leftover cooked and shredded turkey
1tbsptomato puree (or tomato paste)
1chicken or vegetable stock cube crumbled
1tbspfinely chopped fresh thyme
3x 14oz (400g) tins chopped tomatoes
3cups(100g) fresh baby spinach
2 ½cups(250g) mixed leftover cheese (we used brie, cheddar, mozzarella and red Leicester), grated or chopped finely
1small bunch parsley roughly torn
3-4sprigs fresh thyme
1pinchof black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Boil a large pan of water and cook the pasta for 1 minute less than recommended on the pack. Drain.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat the oil on a medium heat, in a large frying pan.
Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is softened.
Add the chopped peppers, salt, pepper and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Add in the cooked ham and turkey, along with the tomato puree (paste), crumbled stock cube and thyme. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the tinned tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a gentle bubble, then add the pasta and spinach. Stir everything together, then transfer to a large baking dish.
Top with the mixed cheese, and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and serve topped with fresh herbs and black pepper
Can I make it ahead?
Yes! You can make ahead up to the point you sprinkle the cheese on, then cool, cover with foil and refrigerate for up to a day.
Take out of the fridge for an hour before cooking it, to take the chill off the dish (otherwise you mind find you get a cold spot in the middle when baking it).
Keep the foil on and heat in the oven at 190C/375F for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to heat for a further 15 minutes, until hot throughout.
Note: the dish will be a little less saucy if you make it ahead, as the pasta will absorb more of the liquid. You can a few tablespoons of stock or hot water before heating the pasta to ensure it’s still saucy if you like.
Can I freeze this pasta bake?
Yes, once cooked:Cool quickly, cover and freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then take out of the fridge for an hour before cooking it. Reheat in the oven (covered in foil) at 190C/375F for about 20-25 minutes until hot throughout.Add a few tablespoons of stock or hot water when reheating the pasta to ensure it’s still saucy.
Type of pasta to use for pasta bake:
I love to use rigatoni for this pasta bake, but you can use most pasta shapes. Spiralli (pasta spirals), Penne (tubes cut on the diagonal), Fusilli (pasta twists) and Farfalle (pasta bows) all work particularly well, with no change in amounts or cooking times.
Gluten free version:
This recipe works well as a gluten-free dish with a few changes. Swap out the pasta for gluten-free pasta, use a gluten free stock cube or stock pot and ensure your tomato paste is gluten free. Also, if you're using ready grated (shredded) cheese, ensure it's gluten free, as it can sometimes be tossed in a little flour to prevent it from sticking.Nutritional Information is per serving.