Wednesday 15 January 2014

Pasta Loaf - A Healthy Family Meal

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You may have noticed a distinct lack of recipe posts on this blog, especially not healthy family meals.  You may have noticed that I rarely admit to entering the kitchen, let alone using a saucepan, or an oven.  I am not a fan of cooking, and with two small children (quite literally sometimes) hanging from my legs, I find nothing relaxing about cooking.  Eating though, Eating is something I am very good at.

With Archie and Dylan both having tummies to be filled every night though, I have had to venture into the kitchen much more often than I would like to and have discovered that actually, my cooking isn't too bad! I may improvise rather randomly at times (although using banana instead of egg works surprisingly well), and interpret a recipe my own way, but the boys don't complain so I am happy that way.

The challenge was to cook a healthy family meal for under £10 and as soon as the word 'challenge' was used, the kitchen became a much more exciting place.  I had seen a pasta loaf recipe link on social media that looked interesting, different and it contained vegetables so I thought it was worth giving it a go.

pasta loaf, budget recipe, pasta and pastry, cbias, social fabric

I took a trip to Tesco to pick up my ingredients, going shopping after work at the weekend as I know that the later on you go, the better the bargains.  Unrelated to my recipe, I managed to pick up a 10 pack of paper cups for only 5 pence in the bargain aisle!  I often browse the reduced section for inspiration as despite it all having a short date, it is usually ok to cook the next day.  

I found my ingredients and they came in at under £8, with plenty left over of some ingredients for other meals.  I may have chickened out of following the initial recipe completely as I didn't want too much pressure and it was only eighty pence for ready to roll shortcrust pastry!

I have never cooked Butternut Squash before, and I was actually rather excited to try it for the first time, hoping desperately that I would like it.  I try hard to give the boys access to a wide variety or fruit and veg and they both eat everything and anything, but I am not so good myself.  I had to google how to cook it and should someone have had a video camera around when I tried to peel it, it would have made quite a funny film!

Here are the ingredients I used in our pasta loaf dish:

250g macaroni
2 red peppers
1 butternut squash
50g butter
Fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of cornflour
3 medium eggs
250ml double cream
Feta Cheese

1 pack of ready to roll shortcrust pastry (or you can make your own of course!)

If I was making it again, I would probably use more vegetables and less pasta, as it would be healthier for us all and given lots more flavour.  So how did I make it? . . .

I roasted the butternut squash in the oven whilst cooking the pasta on the hob, making sure  the pasta didn't go too soft.

I then heated the butter in a pan and added the peppers which I had diced. 

After a few minutes, I mixed the cooked pasta, roasted squash and finely chopped parsley into the peppers and stirred in the feta cheese.

I rolled out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and lined the inside of a loaf tin with it, chopping off the excess.  I filled it with the pasta, lightly pressing it down.

In a separate bowl, I mixed 3 beaten eggs, the cream and the cornflour (which I had made into a paste with 2 tablespoons of water), and if you have older children, you could add salt and pepper.  As I was planning on feeding this to Archie who is only 10 months, I left out the seasoning.

I poured the sauce over the pasta and then made a pastry lid, covering the pie completely, and sealed with my fingers.  I made a small hole in the lid to let the steam out, and popped it in a pre-heated oven on gas mark 4 for one hour.

When it came out, I left it 15 minutes to cool in the tin and then turned it out, leaving it another 15 minutes before slicing it.

pasta loaf, family recipe, baby led weaning, food photography

The dish may not be the healthiest, but it is hearty, filling winter food that went down very well with the bloke, the toddler and the baby-led-weaning 10 month old.  You could easily add more vegetables and use wholemeal pasta if you wanted to.  Most importantly, it is simple enough that even I can make it and this was big enough for the four of us to eat one meal and an extra meal for the boys too.  

In fact, the leftover £2 gave me just enough to buy some ingredients for a little dessert too and Dylan helped me making fruity pancakes afterwards. 

We mixed one mug of self raising flour, one mug of milk and one egg in a bowl

We grated in one apple (including skin) and tipped in one finely chopped banana.

We cooked it in a frying pan using butter instead of oil and the fruit made the pancakes naturally sweet and delicious!  The boys loved the treat and I felt happy knowing that they contained fresh fruit and no nasties - definitely a hit!

baby led weaning, ten months old, pasta loaf

So it took the term 'challenge' to get me into the kitchen, but I managed to cook a two course meal for all the family for under ten pounds so we are all happy!


  1. Ohh fab!! I have never seen anything like that before! It looks so tasty!

  2. Looks weird but I strangely want to try it!

  3. We cooked butternut squash the other day too and Sienna loved it! Great recipes, what a bargain too :)
    Kerry @ Lived With Love | Parenting & Lifestyle blog

  4. I've seen a couple of these pasta pies around - it sounds like a LOT of carbs but it does look fun!


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