This creamy Mediterranean vegetable and rigatoni pasta bake hits all your five-a-day while avoiding meat. Yet, it still brings comfort.
Sofrito, Ratatouille, & Mediterranean Vegetable Mix
A sofrito is like a French mirepoix. The mirepoix mix of onion, carrots, and celery is called a “battuto” in Italian cuisine, but when it’s cooked in olive oil, it’s then known as a sofrito. The sofrito forms the base of this creamy Mediterranean vegetable and rigatoni pasta bake. A classic Sofrito doesn’t need to include garlic a Mediterranean-inspired recipe wouldn’t be the same without the pungent little bulbs.
The classic dish of Ratatouille hails from nice in France but has a Mediterranean feel to it. Recipes vary like most classic recipes, but certain vegetables have become synonymous with the dish including Aubergine, Courgettes, Tomatoes, and Peppers. Now, when someone says ratatouille vegetables, everyone seems to understand what vegetables mean.
Rigatoni for Creamy Mediterranean Vegetable Bake
Rigatoni is a tubular Pasta shape similar to penne. However, rigatoni is larger than penne and is cut square at the end whereas penne is usually cut diagonally. Often, Rigatoni has ridges which makes it great for catching sauce. The larger cavity also helps it catch the filling between it giving it a texture like a scaled-down version of a cannelloni pasta bake. It’s a pasta shape perfect for catching all those creamy Mediterranean vegetables.
Passata is pureed Tomatoes which are then sieved, resulting in a smooth pureed sauce. It’s unlike Tomato paste or puree as the tomatoes are cooked to remove liquid, resulting in an intense tomato flavour. The tomato paste will also help thicken the tomato sauce. Tomato passata is already quite thick and has a stronger flavour than tinned tomatoes, which may lack flavour or taste too acidic.
Cheese and Bread Toppings
This creamy Mediterranean vegetable pasta bake recipe uses balls of mozzarella as it has a sweeter more pronounced flavour than grated shop-brought mozzarella. However, it doesn’t cover the entirety of the Pasta Bake as well as the ready-grated cheeses. That’s why parmesan is mixed with breadcrumbs, to help fill in those cheese-free gaps. The Breadcrumbs serve another purpose, though and add a necessary crunch to an otherwise soft dish.
Mediterranean Vegetable and Rigatoni Bake
- 40 ml Olive Oil
- 1 Large White Onion Diced
- 2 Carrots Diced
- 3 Garlic Cloves Crushed
- 3 Sticks of Celery Diced
- 1 Aubergine Diced
- 2 Courgettes Diced
- ! Red Pepper Diced
- 2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
- 1 Tbsp of Tomato Puree
- 500 g Tomato Passata
- 150 ml Veg Stock
- 50 ml Double Cream
- Salt / Pepper to tatse
- 500 g Rigatoni Pasta
- 100 g Buffalo Mozzarella
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan Grated
- 2 Tbsp Panko Breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 200C or 180C Fan 0r 400F or Gas 6
- In a large Casserole pot, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and soften the onions and carrots with a pinch if salt.
- Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the remaining vegetables. Gently soften for 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste and half the Oregano. Cook for 2 minutes before adding the passata and vegetable stock.
- Cook the sauce for 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken and the flavours to infuse.
- Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the rigatoni for 6-7 minutes until the pasta has softened but not cooked.
- In a small bowl combine the parmesan, remaining oregano, and breadcrumbs.
- Drain the pasta and mix through the sauce. Transfer the rigatoni to a large enough ovenproof dish.
- Top with shredded mozzarella and fill in any gaps with the parmesan breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the Pasta is cooked, the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.