Tuna mornay pasta bake

This recipe has a lot of scope for variation – just about any veg can be used (as long as it doesn’t have a very strong character of its own, like beetroot for instance), just about any type of pasta bar spaghetti, any type of cheese, breadcrumbs on top or not, and any type of other flavour additions too. Experiment away!

Pasta and veg compoment: Bring a pot of water to the boil. Cut a variety of vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, swede, carrot, brussels sprouts, asparagus, beans, corn – just about anything!) into pieces that will all cook in about the same period of time. Boil 500g pasta of your choice and veg in salted water until done – drain and tip into a large baking tray, making sure the veg is well mixed through the pasta.

Mornay sauce component: Melt a generous amount of butter in a saucepan – at this point you can add garlic, finely chopped shallots or spring onions, chopped dill etc. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour, and cook out, then add a little milk, whisk vigorously, then a little more, whisk some more etc. (This is just a bit of a variant on white or bechamel sauce – the key is to get the two combined with no lumps early on, and this is much easier done if you start with small amounts of milk.) Once you have a loose but smooth paste consistency you can start being a bit more generous in the amounts of milk you add each time. In total, you’ll probably add around half a litre or so of milk. Once you have a fairly runny sauce consistency, lower the heat, add a glug of fish sauce and a drained tin of tuna, and stir often but not constantly to make sure no lumps develop as it thickens. When you have a suitably thick consistency, remove from the heat and add a handful of grated cheese.

Pour the mornay sauce over the pasta and veg, top with more cheese and breadcrumbs if you like, then bake in a 180c oven till the cheese is golden brown.