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Recipe  •  15 September 2022


Fajita no-boil pasta bake

This throw-it-all-in pasta bake is the type of recipe you want when you haven’t got much time to cook. It’s comforting, creamy, flavourful and delicious.


  • 2 low-salt chicken or vegetable stock cubes*
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs*, cut into strips or diced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 tsp garlic granules
  • 2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 350ml (11 ⁄2 cups) milk*
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) tomato passata (strained tomatoes)
  • 240g (23 ⁄4 cups) dried penne pasta*
  • 120g (41 ⁄2oz) Cheddar cheese*, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper

To serve (optional)

  • guacamole
  • sour cream*
  • lime wedges

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan (200°C/400°F/Gas 6) and boil the kettle.

Crumble the stock cubes into a measuring jug, then add 100ml (scant 1 ⁄2 cup) of boiling water from the kettle. Stir well, then leave for a minute or so before stirring again to allow the stock cubes to dissolve into a thick paste.

Meanwhile, add the chicken, peppers, garlic granules and all the herbs and spices to a large, high-sided baking dish (approx. 25 x 35cm/10 x 14in).

Back to the stock in the jug, add the milk and stir to dissolve the stock paste before pouring this liquid into the baking dish. Stir well, then add the tomato passata, the pasta and half of the grated cheese. Stir again – as the dish is quite full it may be useful to use two wooden spoons to lift the ingredients and help mix them together until they are well combined. Ensure all the ingredients are submerged under the liquid, then cover the dish tightly with foil. Place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and forget about it for 40 minutes – it will bubble away and cook on its own.

After 40 minutes, carefully check the pasta. If it’s soft, remove the foil and give it all a good stir. If it’s not, then re-cover and cook for a while longer. Top with the remaining grated cheese and a little black pepper. Turn the oven temperature up to 200°C fan (220°C/425°F/Gas 7) and place the uncovered dish back in the oven. Bake for a further 10–15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the top of the pasta bake is beginning to char.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, lime wedges and a sprinkle of salt for the adults. For little taste testers, cut the chicken into finger strips or blend up baby’s portion with a little milk or water.

Veggie swaps: Replace the chicken with diced aubergines (eggplants) and use low-salt veggie stock cubes

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