Perfect Pasta

The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is start a major cooking event. Weekday food needs to be cheap and reliable and easy. You can’t go wrong with these two favourites to feed the hungry hoards.

Cheesy Pasta with Leeks, Peas and Bacon (serves 4)
12 oz (350g) pasta
2 large leeks, chopped and washed
1 pack of Asda Smart Price bacon or similar (about 6 rashers), chopped
2 oz (50g) frozen peas
2 oz (50g) butter
Cheese sauce, made with a pint of milk, 2 oz (50g) of flour, 2 oz (50g) butter, 6 oz (175g) cheddar cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the grill and bribe one of the kids to make a salad.

Cook the pasta in boiling water. Don’t overcook – you want it al dente. While this is cooking, make the sauce by melting the butter and adding the flour to make a roux. Cook for a few minutes so that your sauce doesn’t taste floury. Add the milk gradually, whisking any lumps out as you go. Keeping stirring as it thickens – don’t have the heat up to high or it will burn. Add about 4 oz of the cheese and stir until melted. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Fry the leeks and bacon until softened in the butter, then add the peas and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes. Mix with the drained, cooked pasta, then add the sauce. Place in an oven proof container and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Grill until the cheese browns and bubbles and serve.

Tuna Pasta with Olives (serves 4)
12 oz pasta
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
Olive oil
A 400 gram can chopped tomatoes
10-20 black olives (I find I have to eat the whole jar once opened but you might be more disciplined!)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 can tuna (200g)
4 tbsp white wine (this is almost as dangerous as the olives.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Gently fry the onion and garlic until softened but not brown. Add the wine and tomatoes and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the olives, herbs and seasoning and cook for a further 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook and drain the pasta. Add the tuna to the sauce and mix in the pasta to coat it well. This is nice topped with some grated cheddar or parmesan if you happen to have some.