Do you ever have those days when you just look in the fridge, you’ve got food in there but it’s not really inspiring you and you fancy doing something a bit different with it? Our latest little fad is making ‘Mediterranean pasta bakes.’
That name is in inverted commas because we do just make them up as we go along and ingredients vary – it’s whatever is in the fridge. Tomatoes and aubergines tend to be a common thread hence the ‘Mediterranean’ description.
Anyway, we’re posting the recipe for one of our favourite bakes today – aubergine and tuna. It’s a good one because it’s healthy and it goes a long way – the recipe does six decent sized servings if you’re having it as part of a bigger meal.
There’s only two of us but that’s okay because we like to eat it cold the day after (you can reheat it of course – we just like cold food sometimes).
Tuna & Aubergine Pasta Bake Recipe
The idea of this bake is that it’s something a little bit different but also quick and easy. We’ve got aubergine layers, like a Greek moussaka, but the topping is crunchy rather than the bechamel topping you usually get on a moussaka or the one we did for our lasagne recipe.
First of all, we’re going to prepare our aubergines. Lots of recipes will tell you to fry your aubergine first. We find this a bit time consuming and aubergines just eat oil. You can control the amount of oil much easier by grilling.
- Preheat your grill on the highest setting.
- Take 3-4 medium sized aubergines and slice them lengthways – about 1 cm thick.
- Drizzle some olive oil onto an oven tray and lay the slices of aubergine over the top (you’ll probably need to do this in two stages, but that’s okay).
- Drizzle olive oil over the top of the aubergines. You don’t need too much (see main photo above).
- Now place them under grill for 2 or 3 minutes until they start to brown.
- Turn them over and do the same again (top right photo).
- Remove from the grill and, in a shallow oven dish, place your first layer of aubergine. It doesn’t have to be perfect (bottom right photo above). Leave the rest of the aubergines to one side for now.
For The Tuna Pasta Sauce
Now we need to make the Mediterranean style tomato sauce for the tuna and pasta. You can make your sauce to your own recipe but this is roughly how we do ours.
Remember, this is a quick bake – something you can just throw together – but it won’t taste thrown together at the end.
- Finely chop one large onion, 2 long green peppers and 1 red pepper (if you’re using bell peppers, just use half of each).
- Add a drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan and start to sweat the onions and pepper.
- Meanwhile, take 4 medium-sized tomatoes and grate them – the skin will stay behind in your hand and you’ll have a nice pulp (main photo on left above). You can just use a tin of chopped tomatoes if you like. Add this to your pan.
- Grate / crush 2 clove of garlic and add this to the pan.
- Now add one sugar cube, 1tsp vinegar, salt, pepper and a generous sprinkling of kekik (thyme or oregano).
- Leave to simmer (top right photo above) and now you can boil some pasta. We used penne but other shapes are fine, too.
- When your pasta is nearly ready, drain one tin of tuna and add it to your tomato sauce and stir. The tuna will soak up lots of juices.
- Now drain your pasta and add that to the tomato and tuna sauce. Mix it in.
And now we build our bake…
All very simple, really.
- Preheat your oven to around 180 degrees.
- Take your oven dish with the layer of aubergines.*
- Spoon all of your tuna pasta mix over the top of the aubergines and spread it so it’s roughly even all over.
- Now layer the rest of your aubergines over the top.
And now for the crunchy topping…
- All you’re going to do is grate a couple of slices of stale bread. Don’t worry about it all being tiny, even crumbs. The bigger chunks that fall off will add to the crunch.
- Now crumble around 100 -150g of white cheese into your bread crumbs. I do this by hand. We’re going rustic. (You can use Greek feta if you can’t get Turkish white cheese.)
- Sprinkle your bread / cheese mix over the top and then place in the middle of your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove it once the bread has crisped (photo on the right above) and leave it to cool for a few minutes before serving.
And we did say we like to eat food cold the day after. Here is the lunch we had the following day.
It’s always nice, knowing lunch – and a good lunch at that – is already prepared. We do this with lots of our meals (especially homemade jalfrezi – and meze dishes, too, of course).
*For reference: Our oven dish measures 11 inches by 11 inches and is just over 2 inches deep.