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 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.