This Italian inspired pasta dish is a customer classic. It oozes it’s southern European origins, combining herbs and fresh tomatoes and red wine to create a delicious Mediterranean medley. The magic of this dish lies in it’s name, ‘Alforno’ ,Italian for ‘baking’. To get the best out of it make sure you sprinkle on the Mozzarella and hard Italian cheese before baking for 8 - 10 minutes to ensure a golden topping of greatness.
Wheat Penne Pasta(ContainsGluten)
Red Wine Stock Pot(ContainsSulphites)
Hard Cheese (Italian Style)(ContainsMilk)
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Put a large saucepan of water with a pinch of salt on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan on high heat. When hot, add the beef mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and fry, stirring occasionally, until browned, 4-5 mins. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Trim the carrot (no need to peel) and grate with a coarse grater. Add the penne to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente, 8-10 mins. When cooked, drain in a colander and drizzle with a little oil to stop it sticking. Add the carrot to the beef, stir together then add the tomato purée. Cook, stirring, for another minute.
Pour the chopped tomatoes into the pan with the beef along with the stock pot and water (see ingredients for amount), bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the stock pot then reduce the heat and simmer until thick and tomatoey, 10-12 mins. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the chives (stalks and all). Trim the cucumber, quarter lengthways then chop into 1cm chunks. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Pop the cucumber and plum tomatoes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil (see ingredients for amount).
In whichever is the largest of the two pans, combine the penne and the sauce, along with half the chives then transfer it all to a large deep ovenproof dish. Tear up the mozzarella and scatter over the top, then sprinkle over the hard Italian cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 8-10 mins.
Serve the wheat penne ragu alforno, sprinkled with the remaining chives, and the cucumber and tomato salad alongside. Drizzle the balsamic dressing over for those that want it. Enjoy!