This delicious Multi Coloured Hidden Veggie Meatball Pasta Bake is a firm family favourite in our house, just like Cathedral City Cheese is. So let me share the recipe with you which is packed full of healthy vegetables, lean mince beef meatballs and topped with creamy mature Cathedral City cheese, and maybe it will become a dish you and your family love too.
OK, so let me start by saying that I am not a big cheese fan or eater. Ever since I was a child, I have always preferred to eat my cheese either melted or grated, and while I will eat a cheese sandwich, I do not like strong tasting cheese. This is in complete contrast to my OH who ADORES cheese, infact the stronger tasting (and sometimes smelling!) the better for him. However, for me I much prefer cheese when it is used in cooking, like being melted on a pizza, or all gooey and oozy in a cauliflower cheese or on top of a pasta bake or lasagna.
Cathedral City is a brand of cheese that I buy regularly from the supermarket, because even I can eat the mature variety it produces, as it is packed full of flavour that is not too over powering for a mature cheddar. The brand has recently received a packaging make over and a new campaign faced by the nation’s much loved actor, David Jason, encouraging us all to embrace #cheeserules (see bottom of this post). After all, if you love cheese then welcome to the club.
Indeed as a family we all eat Cathedral City in our own different ways, and by our own rules:
The OH enjoys nothing more than a big lump of cheese with some bread, and more often than not I catch him in the kitchen having raided the fridge for the cathedral City cheese, slicing himself off a chunk or two. He normally gets a tut tut from me because if I did not give him my Paddington Bear inspired stare, that cheese would be gone!
My boys prefer their cheese grated or cut into small cubes.
They like having grated cheese added to the top of the pasta dishes or beans on toast, and, a bit like their Daddy, as soon as the cheese grater comes out they can be found trying to pinch strands of grated cheese to quickly stuff into their mouths, thinking I will not notice!
When it comes to eating cheese there are no #cheeserules really, you just have to eat it however or whichever way you prefer. For me it is best the it has been used in cooking and using this as my inspiration, I decided to use some Cathedral City Mature on top of my Multi Coloured Hidden Veggie Meatball Pasta
Look at that cheese, bubbling away and hotter than the sun and yet you have to sample a piece of it before it is dished up (well, I do anyway. Many a time I have burnt my tongue doing this!).
Mmmmm so cheesy and I love the almost burnt bits too as they are sooooo full of cheese flavour. I must confess that I often get a knife and run along the dish to scrape out all of those hardened crispy cheese flakes!
My Multi Coloured Hidden Veggie Meatball Pasta is made from scratch and I would guesstimate that the entire dish, which includes making and shaping the meatballs, cooking all of the hidden veggies, making the tomato sauce, cooking meatballs and the pasta and then putting it all together to finish off in the oven , takes about an hour and a half in total. But it is totally worth it to know that you have made a dish that is full of lots of (hidden) veggie goodness with all those vitamins that they bring to the meal. Besides it is still faster than going to the shops buying a ready meal, going home and then cooking it.
So as I explained the dish is comprised of different processes:
Making and shaping your meatballs, chilling them and then pan frying them to brown them all over – I got the boys to help me shape them which they enjoy doing.
Prepping and cooking all your hidden veggies, and then making them into a tasty and nutritious pasta sauce
Cooking the pasta
Preparing the cheese, and assembling the pasta bake
Put it all together and what do you have?
If you fancy having a go at making your own Multi Coloured Hidden Veggie Meatball Pasta Bake then here is the recipe:
- *FOR THE MEATBALLS*
- 500g minced beef (I used the 5% fat version)
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- good pinch of black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano (dried)
- ½ tsp basil (dried)
- 1 beef stick cube
- 1 tsp oil
- *FOR THE PASTA SAUCE*
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 apple, core removed and chopped into 4
- 1 pepper (I used green as i don't like the flavour as much, but used like this you can't taste it)
- ½ head of broccoli
- 1 spoonful of oil
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- good pinch of black pepper
- 1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs
- 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 x 500g pack of passatta
- 1-2 tsp sugar (depending on taste)
- *PASTA & CHEESE*
- 400g pasta - I used the tricolore fusilli pasta
- approx ½ block of the 550g Cathedral City Mature Cheese, grated
- Place the beef mince, garlic, pepper and herbs into a large bowl and using your hands give it a good mix
- Then take small fingerfulls of the mixture to make mini meatballs
- Once they are all made, they need to be covered and chilled in the fridge for at least 30 mins to firm up
- Once chilled, heat the oil in a non stick pan, and gently brown the meatballs ,carefully turning them as they brown. this will take about 5 minutes in total. near the end of the time, crumble over a stock cube to add some extra beefy taste to the meatballs. put to one side while you make the pasta sauce
- *PASTA SAUCE*
- place the onions, carrots and apple into a food processor (otherwise chop very finely if you do not own one) and blitz until they are tiny pieces (see photo)
- heat the oil in a large non stick pan over a low heat, and then slowly cook the veg and apple soften - about 10 minutes, remembering to stir often so they don't stick to the pan
- do the same with the pepper and broccoli to make teeny tiny veg crumbs, and then add this to the other veggies and cook slowly for another 10 minutes. Remembering to stir often so they don't stick to the pan
- Add the tinned tomatoes, passatta and the garlic, herbs and pepper and give it a good old stir.
- Increase the heat and bring to the boil. One this has happened, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer away for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Meanwhile cook your pasta in a large saucepan, as per the instructions on the packet, then drain and stir and put to one side until the pasta sauce is ready
- Pre heat the oven to 180oC / 160oC (fan)
- *ASSEMBLING THE PASTA BAKE*
- Return the cooked pasta to the large saucepan, and pour over the tomato ad veggie sauce
- stir to make sure all of the pasta is covered
- then add the meatballs, and stir again
- Pour the mixture into a large over proof dish
- top with the grated cheese
- bake in the oven for approx 30 minutes until the cheese if all bubbling and golden
- serve with a green salad and homemade garlic bread
Of course, don’t let me tell you how much cheese you should add to this dish – there are no strict #cheeserules – use as little or as much as you like!
Cathedral City say that the most important #cheeserules are:
Bubbling cheese must on no account be allowed to go unwitnessed.
The bit of cheese that’s too awkward to grate must immediately be eaten.
Crispy bits are irresistible, absolutely no effort should be made to resist them.
You might feel guilty after multiple visits to the cheese board. Do not.
If you burn yourself on melted cheese, you will make a big fuss about it.
I am sure we can all relate to one or more of these!!!
For more information about the rules of cheese check out their Facebook page.
This recipe was created using Cathedral City cheese and was written in collaboration with the brand. All comments made are honest and all words and photos are my own.