Suddenly I remembered a 1980s school dinner from Finnish schools, Spaghettipaistos, which is in essence a baked spaghetti bolognese. Of course the school version was quite stripped down version of mince meat in a tomato sauce baked with some spaghetti. However it wasn't bad and it got us filled. Finnish school dinners tend to be of good quality and quite versatile. We were always served a warm meal with salads and bread on the side. I'm not fond of everything that we were served, and will surely never again taste some of those dishes in my life, especially because many of them contained meat.
I was somewhat of an oddball as a teenager when I became a vegetarian in a quite meat-centric eating culture in a small town, but most people showed respect to my new eating habits. In the beginning I was mainly leaving off the meat, and didn't necessarily eat versatile enough, but I slowly read more about vegetarianism and got acquainted with lentils and other vegetarian essentials. Even at school I could get through fairly well with my new vegetarian diet.
Now back to today's recipe. As I remembered this Finnish classic, I wanted to make a vegetarian version of it, and also make it a bit more posh by making a proper vegetarian bolognese containing carrots and mushrooms as well. This dish turned out to be really nice, and it was also quite a huge portion. It would be good, if you have many eaters, or want to eat this on several days. I froze a part of this so that I can enjoy it later on a day when I'm too lazy to cook.
Do you have any special memories of school dinners, or have you cooked some at home for nostalgic reasons?
Spaghetti Bolognese Bake - Spaghettipaistos
½ cup dried soya mince
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
100 g closed cup button mushrooms
500 g tomato passata
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
300 g spaghetti
150 g grated cheddar
Cook the dried soya mince as per the packet instructions, or use fresh soya or quorn mince.
Chop the onion, garlic and carrots finely, and start cooking the onion in olive oil. Cook until soft and browned, and then add the carrots and after a while the garlic.
Slice the button mushrooms and also add them to the pan.
Then cover the veggies with tomato passata ans let simmer, until the flavours have blended nicely and the vegetables still have a nice texture.
In the meanwhile cook the spaghetti separately until al dente.
Season the sauce with basil, oregano, salt and black pepper.
Combine the sauce with the spaghetti and place them in an oven dish.
Cover with grated cheese and bake for about 20 minutes at 180 C until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.