Pasta, rice or vegetable bakes are something that we all grew up on and the best thing about having them for dinner is that they taste even better the next day. Baked dishes are a fantastic way of throwing a pile of wonderful tasty ingredients together in the one pot. This makes an easy meal for anyone to put together. Also they don’t have to be heavy and full of fat. You can combine wonderful ingredients that are healthy and still full of flavour making them ideal for everyone. Baked dishes are perfect for school or work lunches, when they cool they are very easy to cut and place into takeaway containers. Use the combinations and suggestions given under the salad heading for grains and vegetables to make your bakes something a little special. Grains such as rice, pasta, quinoa, cous cous, barley are all perfect and when teamed with all sorts of vegetables including spinach, sweet potato, pumpkin, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, spices, cheese and eggs, well the list is endless and the possibilities are many.
Rice and Tuna bake
Serves 4 Prep time 15 minutes Cooking time 25 minutes
- 3 cups of cooked basmati rice
- 425g tin of tuna in brine, drained
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 green shallots, sliced
- 1 zucchini, trimmed, grated and squeezed of all its liquid
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 3 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 160g ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 20g parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200c
Spray a ceramic dish or individual muffin trays with oil. Combine the tuna, lemon rind, juice, chopped shallots, grated zucchini, diced tomatoes and the parsley in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, ricotta and parmesan and season well with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mix into the rice and mix well, spread this into the greased baking dish and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden.
· Substitute the tuna for salmon, cooked fresh fish, cooked mince seasoned with Mexican spices and a tin of diced tomatoes or diced cooked chicken
· If you are looking for dairy free alternative you can use soft tofu in this dish and dairy free parmesan cheese.
Healthy macaroni and cheese with prosciutto Serves 6 Prep time 15 minutes Cooking time 35 minutes
500g small whole wheat macaroni pasta
For the white sauce
- 2 cups cauliflower, boiled until soft
- 3 slices of prosciutto
- 20g butter
- 2 tblsp flour
- 125ml light sour cream
- 400ml skim milk (you can also use milk alternatives)
- 1 egg
- 6 green shallots, thinly sliced
For the crust
- 40g parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180c. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the cauliflower until very soft, remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the pasta into the same water and bring the water back to the boil, cook the pasta as directed on the packet, drain and set it aside.
In the same pot over a moderate heat fry the sliced prosciutto until starting to brown, then remove this and add it to the drained pasta. Reheat the pot and add in the butter and the flour, stir for 1 minute until well combined and starting to toast to a golden brown. With a whisk start to add in the combined sour cream with the milk, whisk until the sauce starts to thicken.
Place the cauliflower into a food processor with ¼ of the white sauce and blend until smooth. Mix the cauliflower back into the white sauce, season and mix together until well incorporated. Pour the white sauce over the pasta, stirring in the sliced shallots. Pour the creamy pasta into your baking dish. In a small bowl combine the parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs and parsley, add in the olive oil and stir to coat. Sprinkle this over the pasta and bake for 35 minutes until golden.
Other alternatives can include –
Covering the top of the pasta bake with a tin of diced tomatoes and herbs then the parmesan cheese
Cooking up a healthy bolognaise sauce and using fresh lasagne sheets with the same white sauce recipe
Adding a couple tablespoons of pesto to the white sauce and tossing the pasta with 4 cups of sautéed sliced mushrooms cooked in water, then baking it for 20-25 minutes.