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The #UglyPerfect Mid-Week Meal: Gooey, cheesy, veggie-filled pasta bake recipe

Fat Mum Slim /

Created in partnership with Perfect Italiano.

True story: I was once asked if I wanted to make a cookbook. Like, a real, hold-in-your-hands cookbook. I had meetings, and conversations and plans, and it was rolling along, and then I realised I can’t make beautiful food. What I do well, is delicious but not-so-perfect looking food. Maybe THAT should be a cookbook.

When you think about the most delicious mid-week meal you make, or even ate as a kid around your family dinner table, don’t you think of them as deliciously imperfect? I do. I mean, I’m cooking for my kids, not some chef judges! Our favourite meals are comfort food, and simply scrumptious. That’s how it happens at our place.

Perfect Italiano asked me to share one of my favourite #UglyPerfect meals with you guys, and I knew I was the perfect person, and I also knew the perfect recipe. You’d know Perfect Italiano well – they are the master of cheeses, and do gooey VERY well. I love their Perfect Bakes cheese {because it doesn’t go oily, just gooey}, but for this recipe I used their Ricotta and grated Mozzarella.

Today I wanted to bring you a really simple recipe that is so perfect for this time of year. It’s also one that you can totally cater to suit your family. If you like more veggies, whack them in! If you’ve got a fussy kid {or partner!} then leave them out. It’s also perfect, because it’s one that you can empty the vegetable crisper with, and use up any stray vegetables you have leftover. I used mushroom, zucchini, onion and carrot but you could totally throw in diced capsicum, grated pumpkin, chopped cherry tomatoes or whatever it is you’ve got hanging around. It’s that kinda recipe!

Gooey, cheesy, veggie-filled pasta bake recipe

To make the veggie and meat sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
500g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g mushrooms, slice
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini grated, and squeezed of excess liquid
1 400g can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste

For the pasta:
500g penne pasta {or pasta of your choice} cooked as per the packet instructions

For the cheese-y goodness:
1 250g tub of Perfect Italiano Ricotta
1 1/2 cup of Perfect Italiano grated Mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and get a good-sized baking dish ready {mine is 25cm by 25cm and about 10cm deep!}. Cook the meat and vegetable sauce by heating the oil in a large sized frying pan over medium heat. Add the mince, and cooked until browned through. Add the mushrooms, carrot, and zucchini and cook for 3 minutes, until the mushrooms soften. Add in the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, and cook on low for ten minutes.

Step one: Place a few spoonfuls of the meat and veggie sauce into the base of your baking dish.

Step two: Place half of your pasta into the baking dish. Spread out evenly.

Step three: Top with half of the veggie and meat sauce. Spread evenly .

Step four: Dollop half of the ricotta over the sauce and pasta. Kids love doing this part!

Step five: Top with the rest of the cooked pasta.

Step six: Top with the rest of the veggie and meat sauce. Smooth over with the back of a spoon or with a spatula.

Step seven: Dollop over the rest of the delicious Perfect Italiano ricotta.

Step eight: Sprinkle the Perfect Italiano Mozzarella with much enthusiasm to cover the pasta bake. Leave no corner un-cheesed! Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden and gooey, and perfectly ugly!   

Step nine: My favourite step! Serve into bowls and get ready to eat!

Look at the cheese!   

And that is truly perfection {mind the mess!}.

You could serve with a fresh salad – a garden salad works well.

Look at that! Can you please appreciate the level of awesomeness there is in that stringy cheese there. It’s NEXT level. If you want to check out the range of cheese products you can just head to the fridge section of your local supermarket, or you can pop over to their website and see them here.

If you give this gooey, cheesy, veggie-filled pasta bake a go, please do take a photo and share your creation with me and @Perfect_ItalianoAU on Instagram using #UglyPerfect. I’d love to know what veggies you decide to include in yours!

Now, I’m handing it over to you. I want to know what your favourite #UglyPerfect mid-week meal is. Do tell! I want cheese-y ideas. I’ve got three $50 Woolworths gift cards up for grabs for three lucky people to go shopping and recreate their favourite #UglyPerfect dish at home. To be in the running, just share your favourite #UglyPerfect mid-week meal idea below.


Terms and conditions: Competition is open to Australian residents only. Only one entry per person. Competition closes July 30th at 11L:59pm AEST. This is a game of skill, and chance plays no part at all. The winner will be judged by Chantelle of Fat Mum Slim, and will be contacted via the comment section or via email.