Red pepper, roast tomato and pancetta pasta bake


All Bert wanted from the Christmas holiday was to have a day when he didn’t get out of his pyjamas. All he wanted from Christmas itself was a one-metre high Paw Patrol look-out tower, some green pyjamas … and soft toys in the shape of groundhogs, aardvarks, otters and tree frogs.

A week on, the aardvark, otter and groundhog are tucked up next to a sleepy boy in new green pyjamas that are saggy in the knee from playing Paw Patrol. And a frog soft toy is bumped to his birthday list.

He’s at the point where he’s not prepared to eat any more ham or turkey and I’m not yet at the point where I’m prepared to go to a shop. So this is what we ate tonight.

The veg are puréed because he’s four and so vegetables must be raw and look like cucumber or cooked and seem like ketchup. The random cheese mixture is because Christmas.

Serves 3

1/2 bag pasta

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Slug of olive oil

1 red pepper

1 of those little packets of pancetta or some diced bacon

Sprig of thyme

Grated hard cheese, about 200g (we had pecorino, Cheddar and Gouda)

About a handful of breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 180. Put the tomatoes, whole, into a medium sized baking tin (say 20 x 30cm), drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile purée the pepper. Fry the pancetta till it’s starting to crisp. Cook the pasta for a couple of minutes short of its cooking time.

Add the roast tomatoes (and any liquid from the tin) to the blender and purée with the pepper. Add the thyme leaves to the bacon pan and fry for another minute or two.

Stir the puréed veg into the pasta, add the bacon and half the cheese and tip back into the (unwashed) tin you roasted the tomatoes in. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and the breadcrumbs and bake for about 25 minutes.


Marmite and pancetta pasta


How can something so wrong feel so right?

Serves 2

200 diced pancetta

Splash of oil for frying


Knob of butter

50g grated cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons marmite

Grated parmesan

Me and Bert have just got back from a lovely couple of days in Brighton. All very relaxing except driving on a busy M25 with a back seat passenger shouting ‘CRASH!!!!’ at random intervals.

I think this is a BBC Good Food recipe. If you use the quick cook pasta, the whole thing takes five minutes. Ideal for after a 3 hour drive that’s commentated on as if it’s a Lego Juniors iPad game.

Cook the pasta, scooping out about half a cup of the cooking water towards the end of the cooking time.

Meanwhile fry the pancetta in oil till it’s starting to crisp.

Return the cooked, drained pasta to the pan and quickly add the cheese, butter and marmite, stirring through till melted, and a splash or two of the pasta water – enough to make a silky sauce to coat the pasta. Add the pancetta and serve with grated parmesan.