Tag Archives: Onion

Tuna Pasta Bake (With Extra Veggies)

This is a fantastic recipe for when you have a hankering for pasta but want to keep the carbs relatively low in favour of protein, bulked up with vegetables. Comforting, warming, versatile and full of goodness. If you want to be especially good, use wholewheat pasta. 

  
For this version, you will need:

1 onion

1 pepper

1 clove garlic

Handful of green beans

1 tin sweetcorn 

2 tins tuna. If you don’t like fish, this would be great with leftover chicken or cooked sausages cut up into chunks.

2 tomatoes (or however many you have)

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Chilli, oregano, basil, salt and pepper

A handful of grated hard cheese

A couple of crackers to crumble on top, or breadcrumbs, but I used a few baked tortilla chips since I often have a relatively fresh batch lying around 

A short cut pasta of your choosing, enough to feed 2-3 people should do the trick, or around 150g. I used Conchigliette because I like the way the sauce gets trapped inside the little shells.

An oven-proof casserole dish 

  
1. Slice the onions and pepper and cook off in a medium to large saucepan in a little olive oil on a low to medium heat. These will give you great flavour if cooked low and long.

2. Chip or grate the garlic and add to the saucepan once the onions and peppers are on their way to softening. 

3. Chuck the pasta into a large saucepan with a good punch of salt and pour over some freshly boiled water – give it plenty to swish about in and cook until there is still a bit of bite to the pasta, stirring occasionally. Remember this will be going in the oven with the sauce so will be cooked a little more later on.

  
4. Meanwhile, top and tail the beans and cut in half so they are bite sized. This should be a nice easy eat!  Add these to the vegetable saucepan and stir.

5. Chop the tomatoes into smallish chunks and add to the other vegetables. Once everything has had a good chance to heat through, add the tinned tomatoes, then swirl a little water in the empty can to release the residue. Add the herbs and seasonings and leave to simmer.

  
6. When your pasta is ready, add s couple of tablespoons of the cooking water to the sauce (thanks Nigella and Mr Brooker), drain the pasta and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. 

7. Drain the tin of sweetcorn (bring careful not to cut yourself on the lid!) and add the contents to the sauce.

8. Repeat with the tuna chunks, making sure to use the lids to really squeeze out the extra oil, brine or water, depending on which type you have. I pretty much always mix my tuna with mayo or add it to a sauce like this so I’m not very fussy about which I buy, although I’m not too keen on the brined version (just a family habit!). I find it easiest to use a fork to release the tuna flakes. Add this to the sauce when you’re happy it’s almost ready, as you really just want this to heat up before putting it all together. 

  
9. When you’re happy with everything, mix the pasta into the sauce (I only do it this way to save getting two saucepans dirty but feel free to explain if you think the other way is better) and pour into the casserole dish.

  
10. Sprinkle the grated cheese and crumbled up crackers over the top, and bake for 15 minutes or so, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted to your satisfaction.  

 

I made this last for 2 suppers and 3 small lunches (reheated in the microwave) served with salad, and it was great every time. I kept the last bit in the fridge in a sealed container for about 5 days and it was still great. If you’re using cooked chicken or sausage, you might want to use it up within 3 days and be really sure you’ve reheated it properly. 

  

Bacon and Onion Quiche

I can’t actually express how delightful this quiche is. It takes a lot of patience, and quite a bit of time to get things right, but it’s worth it for an occasional treat. Who knows, I might get quicker with practice! It would work well with other fillings and cheeses as well – the pastry and custard parts will stand up to lots of tinkering. 

  
For the pastry case, you will need:

125g plain flour

50g salted butter at fridge temperature 

1-2 teaspoons cold water
For this filling, you will need:

4 rashers smoked bacon

1 white onion

2 large eggs

150ml single cream

50g Gruyère cheese

A couple of grinds of pepper 

A couple of gratings of nutmeg

A sprinkling of chives and parsley, fresh 

The first thing to prepare is the shortcrust pastry, as it will need to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. I like to make it, chill it, roll and line the case and chill again before I bake it to make sure it stays thin and crisp.

1. When measuring out the butter, dice it into small pieces to make it easier to incorporate the flour. Add the flour to the bowl and rub the two together. This will take patience and strong fingers, but the better you can incorporate the two to make small even crumbs, the more consistent your pastry will be. Remember, it’s important to rub, not knead, as overworking will activate the gluten in the flour and give you a tough quiche crust. 

2. When you think this is about evenly mixed, add in a teaspoon of cold water and mix this in. If this is still really dry, you might want to add more water, but you should try to get this dough to come together with as little moisture as possible. It takes effort and perseverance, but it’s worth it to make the pastry as “short” as possible. This basically means it will be crisp, biscuity and thin, rather than soft and podgy.

3. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so. Now it’s time to roll out the pastry. I find it easiest to do this by placing the dough between two layers of cling film, as it means you don’t have to add any flour to stop the rolling pin sticking, helping you keep it short. Roll it out as round and as thin as you can – a couple of mm thick is what you want to ensure a thin, crisp base. 

4. Butter a loose-bottomed tart tin and carefully lay in the rolled out pastry. Try your best to get it right into the corners, and press up against the flutes in the tin. Don’t worry too much if it cracks a little. You can always patch it up. Using a ball of excess dough can help push it into the corners if you’re worried about pushing your finger or nail through it. It’s important to properly patch any cracks to stop the egg leaking through to the tin and making the base soggy. I haven’t yet decided on the right school of though for the edges of the crust. Some chefs advocate cutting all of the excess off at this stage, whilst others say you should leave a bit extra then run a rolling pin over the top once the case has been baked to compensate for shrinking in the oven. I’d say I was somewhere in between. This will shrink down the sides, but in my experience it happens when the pastry starts to cool and contract. If you take the latter course of action, you put yourself at risk of cracking the case when you trim it, or of getting the case stuck to the tin. What I tend to do is cut it off to the top level of the tin while it’s still raw then push the pastry back into the flutes so it spreads to sit a little above the top. 

  
    

  

5. Let the case chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. I can’t stress just how important this is. Not only will it help the pastry to stay short, but it will help to stop it shrinking down the sides of the tin. 

6. Line with greaseproof paper and baking beads and bake blind for about 20 minutes. When it starts to brown at the edge, remove the paper and beans and put back in for 5 minutes or so to let the base dry out. 

  
7. Grate some Gruyère and sprinkle over the base, which wil help to seal off the pastry. 

  
8. During all the rolling and baking, you might want to fry off your onions and bacon so they can cool to let you proceed as soon as the pastry is cool. It’s best if the onion gets really soft and caramelised. 

  
9. Now you’re ready to make and pour out the custard! This is where everything comes together really quickly. I find it easiest to make the custard up in a jug for easy transfer to the pastry case. Crack the eggs into the jug, whisk up a bit with a fork just to loosen them up, then add the cream, seasoning, nutmeg and fresh herbs. 

  
10. Pour into the case. Don’t be alarmed that the custardy filling will come up to almost the very top of the pastry case – it’ll puff up in the oven then sink back down again when you take it out.  

  
11. Sprinkle on some more cheese and then it’s ready to go in the oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes or until the surface has turned golden brown all over. 

Leave to cool and enjoy!