Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Quick and Simple Tuna Pasta Bake – A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family.

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I realise this isn’t my first recipe for Tuna Pasta Bake. If I’m going to be completely honest though, this version is just as good as my other recipe, Not Just Another Tuna Pasta Bake (I was breaking the mould with that title 😛 ) and is quicker to make. I do love the other version, the cheese sauce made separately adds a gorgeous cheesy creaminess to the dish. But this version is more my go-to. It ticks every box – quick, simple and everyone eats it. And I mean ‘everyone eats it’. We sit down as a family of 6 to this for dinner, and I get 6 clean plates back. Pretty much the Holy Grail of dinners.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

But before we get to the nitty-gritty (i.e. the recipe) I need to over-share a bit. This happened today:

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Yup, the girls started school!!! This may very well be the most exciting day of my (somewhat unexciting) life! I’m a tad happy about this.

Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

400-450g pasta
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp of dried basil)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
3 tins of tuna chunks, drained
1 small tin of sweetcorn (or frozen sweetcorn)
100g soft (cream) cheese
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Notes:

• I used 450g to serve 2 adults and 4 kids, but we eat a lot! Use what you think you’ll need.
• I add some chilli flakes as it adds an extra warmth to the dish, but it’ll be absolutely fine to skip this ingredient. 
• I love the frozen fresh basil you can buy from Waitrose (see pic below) and use it in practically every Italian dish. I’ve not found similar anywhere else. If you don’t have fresh basil, dried is fine, just ensure it’s in-date as out-of-date basil has no flavour at all.

1. Boil a large pan of salted water and get your pasta on to cook – different shapes cook at different rates, just check it (i.e. taste it) to find out when it’s done. Once it has cooked, before you drain it, add your sweetcorn in (this is really if you’re using frozen sweetcorn, to defrost it, but it’ll make no difference if you’re using tinned)

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Drain the pasta and return to the pan.

2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan gently warm the oil and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes but be careful not to let it burn.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt, basil and chilli (if using), then the tuna. Stir and let cook gently for a few minutes. This isn’t cordon bleu cooking (and nothing is cooking from raw in the sauce), so timing is fairly flexible.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

4. Add the soft cheese and slowly let it melt into the sauce whilst stirring. At this point, preheat your grill to medium.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

5. Add your sauce to the cooked pasta (in the big pan is a good idea), mix it all together then pour the lot into a large dish. Top with cheese and pop under the preheated grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Once you’ve removed this from the grill, serve it straight away. I’m sure it would reheat, but I’ve never had any left to test that theory.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

This is apparently so tasty that Alice was eating it off the floor whilst uttering the words “…pasta on the floor is so yummy…’. Erm, ok. Lovely child. Seriously though, if you were paying me money for this recipe (which considering its simplicity is, let’s face it, unlikely) I’d be tempted to offer money back guarantees if your family doesn’t like it. So let me know either way 😀

Happy cooking!

If you like this recipe you might also like my Sausage Meatball Spaghetti and Cheats Tuna Pie.

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti - Super simple midweek dinner that the whole family will enjoy | thehecticcook.com Cheats Tuna Pie - a really simple dish that goes down well with the kids | thehecticcook.com

Cheats Tuna Pie

There are six members of my family, so I tend to cook one meal. Ok, sometimes two if the Husband and I are having an ‘adult’ meal once the kids have gone to bed – this sounds romantic, but usually consists of us eating our dinner on our laps whilst watching some cringe-worthy detective drama. We know how to live.

I’ll cook some meals and, to be honest, expect at least 1-2 of the kids not to eat it. Sometimes I achieve a full house and none of the kids like it (like my Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken, sob). But since missing a meal (or two, in some cases) is not going to hurt my (well padded) children, I refuse to give them something else, in the (possibly vain) hope that eventually they’ll eat everything I give them.

However. I will then cook meals that I am 100%, without a doubt, absolutely sure, the kids will eat. Without fail. And this tuna pie is one such meal.

This is simple cooking at its best. No, its not cooking from scratch – there’s a tin of condensed soup involved, shock, horror! But its quick, ridiculously simple, and my kids absolutely scoff it down. That gets a huge thumbs up in my book. As a result, I make this fairly often. Its one of my ‘go-to’ meals.

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Ingredients

1 tin of tuna, drained
1/2 tin of chicken condensed soup
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
sweetcorn, frozen or fresh
salt & pepper

1. In an ovenproof dish mix the tuna, soup and sweetcorn. Season if desired.

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Note: Because I only use half a tin of the soup for this dish, I tend to freeze the other half in a plastic container, ready to use the next time. It freezes great.

2. Meanwhile peel and cube the potatoes, chuck in a pan of salted water, and boil until soft. Drain, then mash with a little bit of butter and a splash of milk. Top the tuna mix with the mash.

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3. Pop this in a preheated oven, 180°C/350°/Gas 4, for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the tuna base is hot.

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And serve! Did I say this was simple, or did I say this was simple??

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This served my 4 kids (thus would serve 2 adults). Simply up the amount of potatoes, and use 2 tins of tuna plus the whole tin of soup to serve 2 adults and 2-4 children.

This dish is really versatile as well. Sometimes I top the potato with cheese. My mum used to top it with crushed crisps for a lovely crunch. Put whatever veg you would like into the tuna mix – peas are another favourite; carrot would be nice, but chop it small and precook slightly (in the microwave works well). You can use whatever flavour of soup you like too. Change it up each time for a bit of variety.

This isn’t cordon bleu cooking. But its easy. And it contains fish. So it must be good for you!

Happy cooking!

If you like this, you might also like some other ‘family friendly’ meals from my blog such as Quick & Easy Gammon Pasta Bake, Crispy Coated Chicken Nuggets, Traditional Scottish Stovies and Spaghetti Carbonara 🙂

Not Just Another Tuna Pasta Bake

I guess I’m pretty much what is considered a foodie. Or maybe foodaholic is a better word. I live for food. Eating food, cooking food, reading about food…etc. I haven’t read a novel in quite some time but, to the Husband’s amusement, I have read hundreds of food magazines and recipe books. I’ll take a recipe book to bed for some late-night reading. Who needs ’50 Shades’?

I bought the BBC GoodFood magazine the other day, but I was really disappointed. There were few recipes I’d actually bother trying, and I was pretty uninspired. This was a sad day. Their ideas for ‘easy midweek cooking’ included Ginger Miso Aubergine Noodles, and Artichoke & Olive Calzones. Is it just me?

When I’m looking for a recipe the first thing I look at is the list of ingredients. How many, and how ‘normal’? Could I whip it up from my store cupboard ingredients? That’s always a selling point. Then I look at the instructions. How long am I going to have to spend in the kitchen? A couple of times a week I’ll make something a bit more complicated, for the Husband and I, but generally I’m looking for fairly straightforward recipes that I can feed the kids (or at least alter to suit).

This is one such recipe. The original comes from Annabel Karmel, but I’ve simplified it and made it suit my family (no onion was harmed in the making of this dish).

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Ingredients

280g pasta
2 tins of tuna, drained
300ml passata
1 tsp frozen/dried basil
20g butter
20g plain flour
200ml milk
40g grated cheese, plus a little extra for the topping

1. Cook the pasta in a pan of salted boiling water until cooked to your liking.

2. Tip the tuna, passata and basil into a small pan and gently warm. Season to taste.

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For the cheese sauce:

3. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Once melted add the flour and mix to a paste.

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Let this cook for a couple of minutes (this cooks the flour and prevents your sauce from tasting floury), then gradually start adding the milk whilst whisking.

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Keep whisking to ensure there are no lumps, then stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce has thickened.

4. Add the cheese and stir until melted into the sauce. You can add a little white pepper to taste if you like.

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5. Once the pasta has cooked, strain it then return to the pan. Add to this the tuna and the cheese sauces. I added some frozen sweetcorn at this point to give some crunch. Pour into an ovenproof dish and top with some grated cheese.

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6. Pop this until a preheated grill until the cheese is melted and golden.

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In all honesty, this isn’t a ‘throw together in 5 minutes’ kind of meal. It does require the use of a fair few pots:

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But it is worth the extra bit of effort – and by effort, I’m talking a few more pans, and a cheese sauce, nothing complicated.

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This served one adult and four children, but with a bit more pasta would easily feed two adults and numerous children. If I were making this just for the kids, I’d halve the sauce quantities. As a guide I use 80g pasta for an adult, and 50g for a child – however, we have big appetites in my house, so use what you know suits you.

And as with any recipe, you can change it up, add ingredients that your family like, do whatever you fancy. I’ve made this into a tuna lasagne before, just layered the 2 sauces with some lasagne sheets. It’s a lovely dish that my lot wolf down – always a winner!

Happy cooking!