Over the last few days, I’ve been using my spiraliser to experiment with some pasta alternatives. I’ve written before about how I’m blessed with three wonderful children who all have quite different tastes in food. One of the more tricky differences for me to deal with is having one daughter who loves pasta and another who hates it. I’m reluctant to cook two completely separate meals, so I’m experimenting with using spiralised vegetables to replace the pasta in a way that allows me to cook most of the rest of the meal all together.
Today, I decided to experiment with one of my son’s favourites – tuna pasta bake. I was wondering how complicated it would be to make regular tuna pasta bake for two of my children and an alternative – pasta-free – version for my daughter and me.
First, I spiralized a very large sweet potato. Then I microwaved the sweet potato noodles for about four minutes. The purpose of this was not to cook the noodles completely, but just to soften them enough to be able to stir them into the tuna mixture easily without them breaking up. Then I left the noodles to stand while I prepared everything else.
I cooked a small amount of pasta in the normal way. While it was cooking, I made a white sauce with butter, milk and cornflour. I normally use ordinary plain flour when making a white sauce, but given that I was going to try an alternative to pasta, I decided to experiment with making the whole dish gluten-free. I’m glad I did! I discovered that by dissolving the cornflour in a little cold milk before adding it to the pan, it was much easier to make a sauce with no lumps. Once the sauce had come up to the boil and thickened, I added tinned tuna and frozen sweetcorn. I adjusted the thickness of the sauce by adding a little more milk, until I had a good coating consistency.
When the pasta was ready, I drained it, returned it to the pan and added half the tuna mixture. Then I added the spiralised sweet potato to the other half of the tuna mixture. It was a bit tricky to mix in, and I think next time I might cut the sweet potato into shorter lengths before microwaving it just to make it a bit easier to deal with. I transferred each mixture to a separate ovenproof dish and topped them with a little grated cheese. I baked the sweet potato version at 220 degrees C for about 15 minutes (until the noodles were soft). The pasta version just needed five minutes under a hot grill to brown the top.
I served the tuna pasta-less bake topped with some halved cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of samphire. My daughter and I were both quite impressed with my first attempt at a tuna pasta bake without pasta.
*Note: I’ve deliberately written this post without stating the exact quantities or timings I used because I was experimenting and did most of it by eye without measuring anything. However, I hope I’ve given enough detail to enable you to have a go at recreating this recipe if you want. Once I’ve made it a few times, I hope to revisit this post and add a proper recipe-style section with ingredients, quantities and a step-by-step method.