The cheesy pasta layer comes as a pleasant surprise inside this lightly spiced meat loaf.
Oven: 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4
30 g/ 1 oz/ 2 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
500 g/ 1 lb lean beef, minced
30 g/ 1 oz/ ½ cup soft white breadcrumbs
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp chopped parsley
4 bay leaves
90 g/ 3 oz short pasta, such as fusilli
175 g/ 6 oz streaky bacon rashers, rind removed
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Salad leaves, to garnish
1. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and fry the onion and pepper for about 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook it for a further 1 minute.
2. Put the meat into a large bowl and mash it with a wooden spoon until it becomes a sticky paste. Tip in the fried vegetables and stir in the breadcrumbs, cayenne, lemon juice, lemon rind and parsley. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and set it aside.
3. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water to which you have added salt and the olive oil. When it is almost tender, drain in a colander.
4. Make the cheese sauce ( as given in another recipe). Stir in the pasta.
5. Grease a 1 kg/ 2 lb loaf tin and arrange the bay leaves in the base. Stretch the bacon rashers with the back of the knife blade and arrange them to line the base and the sides of the tin. Spoon in half the meat mixture, level the surface and cover it with the pasta. Spoon in the remaining meat mixture, level the top and cover the tin with foil.
6. Cook the meat loaf in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the juices run clear and the loaf has shrunk away from the sides of the tin. Pour off any excess fat from the tin and turn the loaf out on a warmed serving dish, loosening the edges if necessary. Serve hot, with a green salad.