Recently I was looking for a quick meal for two and I happened to find that I had some Ainsley Harriott Pasta Bake in my cupboard. I had been sent some Ainsley Harroitt items for review a while ago and had not got around to trying this as usually I cook for three. This seemed ideal for making a meal without much effort. It is basically a cardboard box which contains pasta and the sauce mix. You add the liquid, put into the oven and a little bit later remove it to find a tasty pasta dish. There are three different flavours, Wild Mushroom, Garlic and Tarragon Pasta Bake, Spicy Tomato with Aubergine and Spinach Pasta Bake and the one I was sent to try, Sundried Tomato and Mascarpone Pasta Bake.
On opening the cardboard box I found two sachets, the pasta and the sauce mix. The lid is easy to open, there are perforations around it so you only open the correct part and don’t rip the sides. Following the instructions I emptied the pasta sachet into the cardboard box. I then used a measuring jug to measure out 275ml of boiling water and 150 ml of milk and mixed this with the sauce sachet. This was poured over the pasta.
The box is then placed onto a baking sheet and cooked in the oven for 15 minutes. After that time it needs a quick stir before cooking for another 15 minutes. You can sprinkle some grated cheese over the pasta in the last five minutes of cooking if you wish, but I didn’t bother.
One annoying thing I did find was that the instructions were printed on the base of the box. I poured the pasta in but then had forgotten how much milk and water I needed. I had to lift the box carefully and hold it up a height in order to read the instructions without spilling the pasta. If they were printed on the other side of the removable lid it would be much better.
When I took it out of the oven the bow shaped pasta had expanded nicely and was covered in a rather nice thick tomato sauce. You could taste a hint of the mascarpone in the sauce as well which gave it a mellow flavour. The pasta was slightly chewy or al dente, which is how it is meant to be, but I think next time I would cook it a little longer.
The pasta make a nice easy meal accompaniment and there was plenty for two people. It would also make a meal for one person by itself. I liked the way that you could just leave it in the oven and forget about it, apart from having to stir it once. It allowed me to get on with other things while it was cooking. Both my son and I enjoyed the Ainsley Harriott Pasta Bake and it is definitely worth keeping a couple in the cupboard for emergency meals.
RRP £1.49 and available in most supermarkets.
Other reviews you may be interested in: