Tuna pasta bake – Serves 4-6
This recipe combines pasta with a creamy sauce, mixed with tuna, sweetcorn and peas.
150g dried pasta – such as fusilli
20g plain flour
400ml semi skimmed milk
salt and black pepper
4 spring onions, chopped – 100g
100g frozen peas
100g frozen sweetcorn
2 x 120g tins tuna, drained
100g grated cheese – Cheddar or mozzarella
- Cook the pasta in lots boiling water until it is soft – read the pack to get the exact cooking time. Fusilli can take 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and put in a bowl.
- Make the sauce. Put the milk, butter and flour into a small saucepan and whisk over the heat until the sauce thickens. This is the all in one method.
- For the roux sauce method, melt the butter and stir in the flour and cook until lightly golden. Slowly add the milk to make a thin sauce. Season well.
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC/Gas 5.
- Mix together the spring onions, peas, sweetcorn and tuna in a large bowl.
- Mix in the pasta, sauce and vegetable and tuna mixture and pile into an ovenproof dish.
- Cover with grated cheese. Bake until golden brown for 20 minutes.
You can use fresh sweetcorn and remove the kernels with a sharp knife. Cook the sweetcorn with the pasta for 5 minutes before using.
The science bit
The starch in the pasta swells, softens and gelatinises as it cooks and changes texture.
The proteins in the pasta – gluten from the flour, and egg if used – coagulate.
The softened starch is trapped in the protein, giving a firm texture which is called al dente.
Gluten free pastas do not have the same firm texture as wheat pasta.
The starch in the sauce also gelatinises and thickens the milk.
The cheese turns golden as the protein denatures, coagulates when baked and crisps due to the Maillard reaction.