It’s Australia Day on Wednesday (26th January), and one of the traditions is to eat lamb. Actually, I’m not sure it’s so much of a tradition as an advertising gimmick by the lamb marketing people, but hey, why not?!
My options for making something with lamb ranged from a roast leg through to burgers. But I am always in the mood for pasta, and wanted a recipe that would make enough so we will still have left-overs ready to eat for a quick dinner on Wednesday. Plus, my vegetable patch is still growing zucchinis like crazy and they need eating! So, I decided on this version of a pastitsio using my usual cheat of Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup instead of making a bechamel sauce. (See my Easy Lasagne for another cheat’s bechamel recipe.)
Ingredients – serves 4-6:
- 250g/9oz penne pasta (I used dried rather than fresh)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup grated cheese (I used ‘Tasty’, the Aussie equivalent to cheddar)
- 1 tbspn oil (olive or vegetable)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 500g/18oz minced (ground) lamb (if you can’t get lamb mince then use beef)
- 100g/3oz diced bacon pieces (or you could use 2 rashers cut up)
- 1 medium zucchini, diced (this is optional, you could use carrots, or no vegetables)
- 400g/14oz can diced tomatoes
- 3 tbspn tomato paste
- 2/3 cup chicken stock (I used ready made, but you could use a stock cube mixed with water)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules (or 1 clove fresh garlic, crushed)
- 420g/15oz can Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
- 200ml/7fl oz milk
- 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
- grated cheese and dried mixed herbs, to sprinkle
- Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water for 8-10 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite. (The pasta will cook more later, so don’t over-cook at this stage.)
- Drain and return to the pan to cool.
- In another large saucepan, heat the oil with half the garlic granules, then cook onion for 3-5 minutes or until softened.
- Add bacon bits to the pan, stir and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the lamb mince, stirring regularly to break up any lumps. Cook for about 5 minutes or until lamb is browned.
- Add the diced zucchini, stir to combine with lamb and cook for 3 minutes to soften the zucchini.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and remaining garlic granules, then bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/fan forced 180C/390F.
- Mix the can of mushroom soup and the milk in a large jug.
- Stir the beaten egg and cup of grated cheese into the cooled pasta, and then spread the pasta over the base of a large ovenproof dish.
- Top the pasta with the meat sauce.
- Spoon (or carefully pour) the mushroom soup/milk mix over the top of the meat sauce, making sure to cover the entire dish.
- Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs, a small amount of grated cheese and some dried mixed herbs.
- Cook for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- Once cooked, allow to sit in the dish for at least 10 minutes before serving.