Serves Three or One, depending on hunger | 20mins (max) | around £5
This dish should take approx. not long at all. 20 minutes, max. It is cheap, it’s difficult to estimate how cheap, because it depends on what you have in your cupboard and what you don’t. And it is delicious. Somewhere between healthy and unhealthy, this dish is essentially the Switzerland of the food world.
Here are three things that, as a student or human, you will definitely have in your cupboard:
Pasta (2 cups)
Pesto (3 teaspoons)
Cheese (enough to cover the top and some for snacking)
And if you don’t, you are either A) a proper adult or B) doing Student wrong. You will need these things because this week, we are making a tuna pasta bake, or a salmon pasta bake.
+ 1 tin of tuna
I was raised on tuna from the tin. I’m assured we had some lovely meals around the table in the house I grew up in, but my abiding memory, aside from my nanny once making me chew on a piece of gristle for THREE HOURS, is tuna. Tuna sandwiches, tuna sweetcorn out of those pots at Safeway (R.I.P), tuna straight from the tin.
For my parents, it was a matter of convenience, for me it became somewhat of a crutch in later life. On days when I struggle with eating, tuna is a food I know I will have, and that I know I know what to do with. So behold, the lovingly simple tuna pasta bake.
Lucky you, Good Student, you only have to buy one thing this week, Salmon or Tuna. Whichever you prefer. Importantly, please don’t take that illusion of choice I have just created as an invite to go mad with your fish choices, you can maybe stretch to trout but don’t you dare go throwing anchovies into the mix. (Also, in an attempt to make the world a slightly better place, I must urge you to please try and get line-caught fish because Fishing Aggregated Devices (FADs) are AWFUL for marine life.)
Find pasta in your cupboard. This can be any type of pasta really, but the bow/tube/shell varieties probably work best. We have been using buckwheat pasta recently, but it’s a little pricey and difficult to find. Try rice flour if you’re gluten-free, you can get it in most supermarkets and it tastes like plain flour pasta. About two cups, or a breakfast bowl filled to the top.
Bring to the boil and then let simmer, time depends on type (of pasta), test it with a fork after five minutes. BLOW ON IT, you burning your mouth from impatience is an insult to the dish, to me, to your parents and to yourself
While the pasta is on the hob, get your tuna/salmon/trout. If the tuna is from the tin, then you just need to mix in some pesto (red or green), a small bit of sour cream if you like, and season with salt and pepper. If you have salmon or trout, you will just need to cook that however you like best. Packaging tends to have basic cooking instructions, In the past I have seasoned and then pan-fried the salmon, the crispy skin in the bake gives it a distinctive texture. Once cooked, follow the same instructions for the tinned tuna.
Remove pasta from the hob and drain. Return it to the pan, add a knob/stick/slab of butter of choice, salted, unsalted, vegan, coconut, the blood of your enemies. Whatever. Transfer to oven-safe bowl. Add the fish. Mix. Add grated cheese to the top of the mix, cheddar is the cheap. cheerful and obvious option, but feel free to experiment. Mozzarella is good, too, but it does tend to just glob together and glue your mouth shut, so unless that’s something you’re into, I suggest just sticking with cheddar. You can also add sliced black olives. Add rock salt and a grind or two of pepper
Put it in the oven on gas mark 6 for about 5 minutes or until the top of your cheese is crispy. Remove and Eat.
Check out our Resources page for more information about Eating Disorders, Sustainable Fishing, and more.