Pasta Bake – Cheap & Simple Recipes for the lads

recipes-for-the-ladsAn ideal cheap and simple Pasta Bake meal that costs less than a fiver and will be ‘ready to eat’ in around 45 minutes.  Just pop down your local supermarket grab a jar of sauce, a pack of pasta and some cheese and you’re on your way.

Total Cost:  £3.55(£4.55 with sausage) – Asda – 19/03/17



500g jar of Homepride Creamy Tomato & Bacon Pasta Bake 

Other flavours available:

200g of pasta shapes e.g Fussilli

100g of Grated Cheese

How to make

  • Preheat oven to 200°c / Gas mark 6/ Fan oven 180°c
  • Pour Pasta Bake sauce into shallow ovenproof dish.  Fill the empty jar up to the top of the label with cold water and pour into dish with pasta sauce and stir. making sure pasta, coating well.
  • Cook uncovered for 25 minutes.  Remove the dish from the oven and stir well.  Sprinkle on your cheese and return to the oven for another 20 minutes until bubbling and golden.

For an extra tasty treat, add a sliced mattessons ‘ready to eat’ smoked sausage on top of the cheese.

Make sure it’s piping hot and fully cooked.  Leave to stand for about 5 mins to cool down and then serve.

Awesome steaks made simple

You don’t need a barbecue this summer. Be brave, and just stick your steak naked straight on to the charcoals – you’ll get 100 times more flavour


Dirty food, to most people, is burgers served in doughnuts, deep-fried birthday cakes or some diabetes-inducing culinary challenge served in a hubcap. Thankfully, we’ve moved on. It’s no longer 2014. This summer, for me, is going to be all about dirty barbecue. This has nothing to do with the other dirty food. This is way more literal. The late, great Josh Ozersky cooked me some dirty steaks last year. If I’m honest, Ozersky had had a few bourbons and they could have been a little better, but he learned this trick from my mentor and US barbecue guru Adam Perry Lang, who also taught me a few years ago. He calls it “clinching”.

Dirty cooking is awesome in its simplicity. Instead of using fancy grills and barbecues, just grill the food directly in or on the hot charcoal. The most important thing is to use decent charcoal. Don’t use cheap briquettes anddispense with chemical lighter fuels, too. Get some nice charcoal online or from your local butcher that is made from wood and not much else – there are plenty of companies that sell additive-free briquettes. You don’t even really need a barbecue, just charcoal, air and something to cook. If you have a normal barbecue, use that without the grill. Or you could “acquire” something like a metal shopping basket, placed on a few house bricks and filled with charcoal. You could probably use a cake cooling tray on some concrete or an old colander. Be innovative. All you need is something to put the charcoal in, air to get to the coals and a base that won’t go up in flames.

Steak and cauliflower for food

Most people fear the meat will burn. It’s an understandable concern, but unfounded. When meat gets too close to hot, burning coals it will burn, but put it right against them and the coals don’t get enough oxygen to create a fire, so we’re cooking purely on the heat of the charcoal. It’s actually harder to burn a steak this way than if you’re terrible at grilling. But you do have to be careful what you cook. You want something tough and dry that won’t break up and create a burnt mess, so no soft fish, vegetables or thin steaks – go for robust vegetables and thick-cut steaks. The big advantage of this method – apart from its simplicity – is that the charcoal smokiness of whatever you cook is 100 times better can be achieved through normal grilling. The disadvantage is that it is actually “dirty”, but with charcoal … and that kind of dirty is more than OK with us.

Steak and cauliflower pic 3


  • 1 steak, at least 1in thick
  • 1 cauliflower
  • Good-quality sustainable-wood charcoal

For the jerk rub (this batch, refrigerated, will last the summer)

  • 1 tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 tbsp cracked black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 3 scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime

Get your coals hot and wait for the initial flames to calm. Meanwhile, blend the jerk ingredients together and set aside. Halve the cauliflower, then cut each half into 4 wedges. Throw them, along with the steak, on to the coals.

Cook the steak to medium rare (season halfway, though, if you don’t want to use the jerk rub), turning both the meat and the cauliflower all the time – you want the cauliflower done until the stems are soft but it still has a bite. If your coals have a thick layer of ash, use a hairdryer to blow it off (this will also heat up the coals). If that’s too much faff, you can just brush the excess ash off the steak later.

When the steak is cooked to your liking, slice it up and brush it with the marinade. Do the same with the cauliflower and serve with sour cream, flatbread, rice or a potato dish.

Enjoy with summer vibes and lots of beer, rum or both.