Cretan Cuisine (Κρητική κουζίνα) - Tuna and Spinach Pasta Bake (Τόνος και Σπανάκι Ζυμαρικά Ψήστε)
Tuna and Spinach Pasta Bake (Τόνος και Σπανάκι Ζυμαρικά Ψήστε) was a meal that our good friend Ελένη made for us which was really tasty. We enjoyed it so much we asked for the recipe so we could make it ourselves at home. This was part of a Cretan family meal we were invited to. It makes a really enjoyable meal, is simple to cook, and very inexpensive, an unusual combination.
This is a delicious combination of pasta, tuna, spinach and peas, in a rich tomato sauce, topped with bechamel sauce. There's lots of room for personalising this by adding other vegetables, for instance broccoli, mushrooms, it's up to you, the sky's the limit.
- 500 grams pasta spirals or penna
- 2 tins tuna in vegetable oil
- 1 small bag fresh spinach (frozen can also be used)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Small handful seasoned dry bread crumb
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp oregano or thyme
- Dash of olive oil, for frying
- 500ml milk
- 60g butter
- 60g plain flour
- 50g kefalotyri, grated (cheese)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Good pinch of Nutmeg
Make the tomato sauce:
- In a deep pan fry the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add oregano, and the the tinned tomatoes and some water (about small cup), add tuna and tomato puree, cook for around 15 mins.
- Add the spinach and peas and cook for a further 10 mins.
- When cooked take of the heat and sit to the side.
- Cook pasta in a large pan of salt water. drain well.
Make the Béchamel Sauce:
- Melt butter over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.
- Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.
- Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.
- Remove from heat, and stir in beaten egg yolks, pinch of nutmeg and some of the grated cheese. Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.
Assemble the Bake:
- Mix the pasta and sauce together in a large pan.
- Lightly grease a large deep baking tray (lasagna tray). Sprinkle the bottom of pan with breadcrumbs.
- Add the pasta and sauce mix to the bottom of the baking tray.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.
- Bake at 180 C oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving
Enjoy your meal (Καλή όρεξη) of Ελένη's Tuna and Spinach Baked Pasta