Pasta bake is one of my go-to comfort food dishes. I always make a huge batch so there’s enough to last for a couple of dinners and maybe even a lunch. The beauty of pasta bake is that you can tailor it according to what ingredients you have lurking in the fridge or what you fancy on the night. You can make it with meat, chicken, fish or beans such as kidney beans. You can add any veg you like and any cheese you like. It becomes a really balanced meal with carbohydrate, protein, vegetables and dairy.
In order to keep pasta bake on the healthy side, I recommend using a tomato-based sauce. It’s so easy and inexpensive to make your own, but if you’re pushed for time, any shop-bought tomato-based pasta sauce will be fine. I will admit to using these quite regularly! Just check the ingredients list first – it should be short and all ingredients should be recognisable!
Here’s one of my favourite pasta bake recipes – Tuna and Broccoli. You can substitute the tuna for cooked chicken and the broccoli & sweetcorn for other veg such as peppers, peas or courgettes. Experiment until you find your family’s favourite!
Tuna & Broccoli Pasta Bake
Makes 4- 6 servings
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp rapeseed or olive oil
- Pinch of sugar
- ½ tub light cream cheese
- 2 x 160g tins tuna in spring water (drained)
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into small florets
- 1 x 150g tin sweetcorn (look for the no-added salt version)
- 350g pasta shapes e.g. fusilli or shells
- 100g reduced-fat cheddar, grated
- 2 large saucepans
- 1 colander
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Tin opener
- Ovenproof dish
- Wooden spoon or large metal spoon
- Fill one of the saucepans with water until it is ¾ full. Put on the lid and place the saucepan on the hob on a high heat. Turn down the heat to medium when the water starts to boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add in the pasta and set a timer (e.g. on your phone) for 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180oC.
- Place the other saucepan over a medium heat on the hob. Add in the oil and then add in the onions and garlic. Stir until they start to brown.
- Add in the tomatoes and turn up the heat to allow them to bubble. Add in the pinch of sugar and broccoli.
- Allow the tomatoes and other veg to bubble for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- The pasta should now be ready – drain it over the sink in a colander and leave until the sauce is ready.
- Add the tuna, cream cheese and sweetcorn to the tomato sauce and mix well
- Tip in the pasta and stir well to combine.
- Place the pasta and sauce in the ovenproof dish.
- Sprinkle over the cheese and place the dish in the oven.
- Allow to cook for about 15 minutes until the cheese has melted.
This dish can be frozen in portions. It will also keep (covered) in the fridge for 2—3 days.
Nutrition information per serving: 336 calories, 8.8g fat, 4.1g saturates, 38.9g carbohydrate, 6.5g sugars, 2.7g fibre, 27.9g protein.
- High in Vitamin A, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Iodine
- Source of Vitamin D
The broccoli in this recipe provides Folic Acid, which is so important before pregnancy and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. It’s important to also take a folic acid supplement (400µg) everyday if you are planning a pregnancy, and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The tuna provides Iodine which is important for normal growth and brain development.