I got this recipe in Annabel Karmel’s Real Food Kids Will Love. This really hit the spot! The sauce has bell pepper in addition to the tomatoes, it’s vegetarian, and best of all, I realized that it’s possible to find lactose-free mozzarella pearls! Just double-check that the nutrition label says “0 g sugar” (and at worst, get a bigger ball of lactose-free fresh mozzarella or mozzarella substitute and cut it into small pieces).
The quantities below make 4 servings, but I doubled them. This dish also freezes well, apparently.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 ¾ cup (600 g) canned chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato purée
1 tsp. honey
3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. mascarpone (I used lactose-free cream cheese)
40 g lactose-free parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups (150 g) rigatoni
¼ cup (50 g) mozzarella pearls
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and fry for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, tomato purée, and honey and bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and purée until smooth (I used my immersion blender). Add the basil, mascarpone, and half of the parmesan cheese.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain and add to the sauce. Mix well and add the mozzarella.
Spoon into a baking dish or individual dishes. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Place under a hot broiler for 5 minutes until cheese is bubbling (I skipped that last part because I was short on time and didn’t want the dish to be so hot anyway, given that my kids are always complaining about their food being too hot as it is). Enjoy!