Tuna pasta bake is the students’ favourite for a very good reason: it’s cheap, easy to cook, and tastes delicious. This version adds some Dijon mustard to give it a bit of a kick, but please feel free to leave that out if you don’t like the taste.
It’s also a great dish to cook with children because being able to make a basic white sauce is a core kitchen skill that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/360°F.
2. Cook the dried pasta in a large saucepan full of salted water. Cook until al dente (soft, but with some ‘bite’ to the middle), and drain.
3. You can make the white sauce while the pasta is cooking. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan and add the flour. Stir together to form a roux. Cook for one minute on a medium heat.
4. Add the milk a little at a time. Whisk as you do to get rid of any lumps and when it has all gone and the sauce is softly bubbling you can add 2/3rds of the grated cheese and the Dijon mustard. Stir continually until it has melted.
5. Add the peas and sweetcorn to the cheese sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
6. Drain both tins of tuna and add to the bottom of a casserole dish.
7. Stir the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce together and pour over the tuna. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
8. Pop in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes until the top is brown and crusty. Serve while piping hot!
You can replace the tuna with leftover cooked chicken, or turn it into a vegetarian dish by replacing the tuna with some more cooked vegetables; broccoli works very well.
You can also substitute the cheddar cheese for any leftover cheese you have in the fridge. At a pinch you can even serve it as a basic cheese pasta dish without having to add anything extra, which might be a lifesaver for impoverished students living away from home for the first time…
Visit our pasta recipes section for more quick and easy dishes, including easy spaghetti bolognese, ziti pasta with broccoli and toasted pine nuts and courgette caponata