Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake

I must admit, I only really got into tinned tuna last year. Before that, I’d eat it sporadically and just mix it with corn kernels and seasoning. Now that I am working full time and often procrastinate preparing my lunch until the morning of…(habit I am trying to break that’s for sure), I often find myself looking for things I can just pick up and easily pair with something else. My favourite last minute lunch that is healthy and filling is just simply a tin of tuna, single serve microwave rice, half an avocado plus seasoning. Works well when it needs to but you can only eat so much tuna and rice right?

Alas, today’s meal was a combination of carb cravings, utilising leftovers and of course branching out of my go to tuna routine. The gift I had today was time. I wasn’t in a rush to bolt out the door and make my train and so could actually concentrate on making something flavoursome. This is simple home cooking and it just works so well every time.

Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

1 cup spiral pasta

100 ml cream

1 teaspoon butter

1 70g tin tuna

handful baby spinach, roughly chopped

3 slices sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

tasty cheese, grated (quantity up to you)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. Cook pasta as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a saucepan on a medium heat, add the cream, butter and seasoning until well combined. Optional: mix in a bit of the grated cheese here for extra flavour.
  4. Once the sauce is ready, add the cooked pasta, tuna, spinach and tomatoes. Stir until the pasta is well coated and the additions are mixed in evenly.
  5. In a small baking dish, add the pasta mixture and spread evenly. Add the rest of the grated cheese.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on the top goes crispy. Set to cool for 5 minutes and then eat.*

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* This recipe is freezer friendly. Wait until completely cool and freeze in a snap lock bag. 

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells

Hope everyone is having a great Easter long weekend! I have been cooking away and experimenting a fair bit and I’m excited to share another recipe with you all.

I aim to make my work lunches with tuna or make them vegetarian just because meat is so expensive! I have been on a bit of a streak lately where I have come up with some tasty, filling and cheap lunch options. There were some odds and ends around the kitchen today. I wanted to use up the bits of food we had leftover both in the fridge and pantry to make this dish. I decided to substitute the meat in this dish with potato. It worked well and gave the dish the substance to make it a complete dish. I have also developed the flavours with cheese, garlic and Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce.

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

10 giant pasta shells (these were from a local food market which sells an abundance of Italian food products)

1 medium potato, diced

100 grams baby spinach

50 grams feta

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup Italian pasta sauce (I used Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce)

100 grams cheddar, grated (I used Mersey Valley)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a small saucepan, add the diced potato to cold water and bring to the boil. In a medium saucepan, bring a pot of water and salt (1/2 tablespoon) to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.
  3. In a food processor, blitz the spinach, feta, garlic, salt and pepper until coarse. (you don’t want to blitz it for too long and end up with a dip…)
  4. Mash the potato to remove the large lumps and then combine with the spinach mixture.
  5. Have a small baking dish ready. Place a heaped spoon of the filling into each of the giant pasta shells and place in one layer in the baking dish until all the shells are filled. Spoon pasta sauce over the shells and cover the top and around the sides. Place the grated cheddar on the top evenly.
  6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

 

Spaghetti with Garlic Infused Oil

Travelling to Italy later this year has got me all inspired with food lately! I was looking for a light lunch today as opposed to something with a thick tomato or creamy sauce. Olive oil serves as a perfect base for pasta sauces as it is easy to incorporate flavours and they won’t be overpowered. Today, I chose to do a garlic infused oil for the base. This was my first attempt to create it and it worked out perfectly. It is much cheaper to make your own garlic infused oil than to purchase the prepackaged ones! It also means you know exactly what goes in which is always a good thing!

Spaghetti with Garlic Infused Oil (serves 2)

What you’re going to need 

1/2 packet thin spaghetti

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the blade of a knife (not minced)

generous handful spinach

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

sprinkle pine nuts

salt, for pasta water

Method

1. Bring a large saucepan up to the boil with 1 tablespoon salt mixed through

2. Add pasta once boiling.

3. Heat up the oil in a frypan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry in the oil until fragrant (leave in longer for more intense flavour).

4. Once fragrant, remove garlic and add spinach and tomatoes. Cook until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are softened

5. Once pasta is cooked through, add to the sauce and toss through until evenly coated

6. Serve topped with pine nuts

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Tuna Zucchini Pasta Salad

So I absolutely love seafood! Unfortunately seafood can be a bit expensive at times and also inconvenient as I only like buying seafood from specific places. However, tinned tuna is my saviour and it’s always an item on hand at home. I wanted to add some protein to this salad and as I was in a bit of a hurry, tuna was the easiest choice. For this recipe, I have loaded the salad with greens so that it is super healthy! Also the best thing about it too is that I did not use any oils. I made a dressing out of the smashed avocado which i lightly seasoned and then I mixed that through the salad to give it moisture. It works as a creamy dressing so was a perfect accompaniment for the zucchini. I like making salads because it forces you to be creative with ingredients you have readily available. It is incredibly easy to whip together and so there’s no excuse to reach for fried or “fast foods”. This will actually save you a bit of coin too.

Tuna Zucchini Pasta Salad

What you’re going to need

1 tin tuna (any kind is fine, a healthier option is to choose one in springwater as opposed to oil)

1/2 zucchini, julienned

handful baby rocket

handful baby spinach

1/2 avocado, mashed (to prevent making more washing up, just mash up your avo whilst it is still in the skin. Its works as a bowl!)

10 walnuts

salt and pepper

lemon juice (optional)

Method

1. Season the avocado with salt and pepper

2. Place the tuna, zucchini, rocket and spinach in a bowl and combine with tongs.

3. Scoop the avocado in and mix through until all the ingredients are coated with avocado

4. Top with walnuts.

5. Drizzle with lemon (optional)

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Basil and Rocket Pesto

I love making pesto because there is no cooking involved besides what you’re serving it with. Which means…you can make it in bulk ahead of time and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it! I used rocket in my recipe because it adds another dimension to the dish and also just because it’s a great way to incorporate more greens into your diet! I’ve been making pesto for a long time but I feel like I can safely say that I’m 100% percent happy with the recipe I’m presenting today.

Basil and Rocket Pesto

What you’re going to need

Handful basil leaves (save yourself a heap of coin by growing your own)

Handful baby rocket leaves

1 clove garlic, crushed

6 walnuts

4 tablespoons olive oil

pinch sea salt

Method

1. Chuck all of your ingredients into a pulse blender/food processor until desired consistency is achieved

2. Serve with fettucine (I left a little bit of pasta water in with the pasta just to give to this dish a bit more moisture!