Pasta bake

Pasta bake

Little Kitchen
Jacqui Melville

As a friend of mine once said, ‘Cheese improves everything!’ Although this isn’t the healthiest rule to follow, I think it is true with this dish. Make the sauce while the pasta is cooking, and both should be ready at the same time.


Quantity Ingredient
250g penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400ml passata
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 pinches pepper
100ml water
2 sprigs parsley
1 x 185 g can tuna in oil, drained and separated into small flakes
3 cups grated cheddar cheese


Quantity Ingredient
oven mitts
see method for ingredients
egg flip
garlic press
large saucepan
measuring jug, measuring cups and measuring spoons
wooden spoon


  1. Ask a grown-up to help you fill a large saucepan two-thirds full with cold water, then bring it to the boil. Add the pasta and stir it gently. Boil for about 8 minutes (or check the instructions on the packet), until it is just ‘al dente’ (see note). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  2. Ask a grown-up to help you preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. Measure the oil into the dried-out saucepan and ask a grown-up to help you heat it over a low heat. Add the garlic to the pan and fry until lightly golden, stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat off and leave it to cool for 3 minutes.
  4. Ask a grown-up to help you pour the passata into the pan. It’s best to wear oven mitts, although if you have cooled the oil enough it shouldn’t spatter. Now add the sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper and water to the pan. Add the parsley leaves and stir the sauce gently. Cook over a medium–low heat for 20 minutes, stirring it every now and then.
  5. Ask a grown-up to help you tip the drained pasta into the sauce, then add the flaked tuna. Stir so everything is well mixed together. Now ask a grown-up to help you carefully tip the pasta mix into a baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
  6. Ask a grown-up to remove the pasta bake from the oven and to help you cut it into square portions. Lift the portions onto a plate using a cake slice or egg flip and serve it with a fresh garden salad and a little dish of tomato sauce or tomato chutney.


  • ‘Al dente’ means ‘tender to the bite’ in Italian. ‘Al dente' pasta feels soft when you bite it but is still firm and holds its shape.
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