This simple yet wholesome dish is one of my favourite recipes when I need to cook something super quick. You can have this on the table in less than 20 minutes, and once you learn the base recipe, you can start to jazz it up with anything you like. Think of the Mediterranean; olives, crispy capers, roasted capsicums and even crumbled feta.
Nearly everyone I know would have some pasta, tinned tomatoes and tuna in their pantry, so this can be whipped up on any day of the week. This is a great dish for anyone trying to save on their food bills, due to the very cost-effective nature of the ingredients, just $5 for two serves, whilst still delivering your needed nutrition, as it’s packed with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. For those of you with growing adolescents, teach your teenagers to make this, and they’ll never go hungry again.
This recipe was a saving grace in my early days overseas travelling on a shoestring. As many of you may now know, I have a love of travel and adventure, and one of the most difficult but also rewarding travelling endeavours I have ever undertaken has been walking ’El Camino de Santiago’ in Northern Spain not once, not twice but three times with very different experiences. A gruelling 900-kilometre walk which you can begin in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France and takes you to the ‘end of the world’: Finisterre on the coast of Galicia on the north-western tip of Spain.
In reflecting on my first experience of the walk, I realised I’d been so focused on completing it that I had missed the mark. I hadn’t learnt yet that life is not about the destination, but learning to enjoy the journey every step of the way, so whilst travelling through Europe, I had the idea to invite my siblings to join me when I planned to walk the _Camino_ for the second time. I set about writing letters to my three brothers and sister to ask if they wanted to accompany me (well, for my sister, I needed to ask permission from my mother, as she was still a minor). Rather miraculously, they all agreed and managed to meet me in London six months later.
From London, we would travel by bus via Paris and Amsterdam to Saint Jean Pied de Port, at the foot of the Pyrenees in south-western France, where for centuries people have started the ‘Pilgrims Way’. I was 22, my brother Ryan was 20, Kirk had just turned 18, Mitchell was sweet 16, and my sister Rosy was just a teenager, aged 14. Our reunion with their arrival all began so well. Arriving in Paris, we did all the touristy things like visiting the Louvre, seeing the Eiffel Tower and eating Nutella crepes. We were on top of the world. After our short stay in Amsterdam, however, things quickly took a downward turn during our onward travel plans.
We had booked a night bus leaving at 8 pm to head to the city of Lyon in southern France, departing from Amsterdam station. When we arrived at the train station, everything was in Dutch, and that’s when I made a critical error. Instead of getting on a train to Amsterdam station, a mere 10-minute ride away, we got on a country train to Amstelveen station. The train that we had taken was heading in the wrong direction an hour away, which meant by the time we returned to Amsterdam and got on the right train, we had now missed our overnight bus. We were devastated. I needed to find out how to fix it.
We had pre-purchased tickets, so I asked a man at his bus window if we could use our tickets to get on the next bus in the morning, to which he replied, “No. You will have to pay again”. “Can we stay here until morning?” I asked. “No. We close the terminal at 9 pm”. Disheartened, I then rang every hostel and hotel within our budget but couldn’t find anywhere with a vacancy. Finally, at around 1 am, whilst pleading with the reception of our last hope, he took pity on us and called his friend, who was a security guard. He worked at a place called the ‘Botel’, an old ferry that had been transformed into a floating hotel in the docklands. It was out of our budget, but the security guard agreed that if we gave him 100 euros, we could sleep in his cabin, insisting we’d need to be gone by 8 am the next morning so as not to be seen by his superiors. This worked for us because the next bus to Lyon departed at 9 am.
Arriving at Amsterdam station the next morning, I explained what had happened the night before to the lady at the ticket window. We were in luck, as there were five seats available on the next bus, and buses were full for the next three days. She kindly permitted us to use our tickets without having to purchase new ones, which instantly restored my faith in the Dutch people. Before our departure time, I needed to buy some supplies for the journey, and I decided to buy a big bag of lollies. I handed the bag to Rosy, and she was to distribute them to the others as she saw fit. Making Mitchell plead cheered her up tremendously, as he loved lollies.
“Listen up, guys,” I said: “We now get to see the beautiful countryside of France because we are travelling by day. This also means we can check into our accommodation straight away when we arrive in Lyon. Then the plan is to go and do some sightseeing without these heavy bags!” As we climbed aboard, their eyes all lit up, relieved to be back on our way and eager to continue with our travel adventures of a lifetime.
COOKING TIME: 15 mins
250g tinned tuna, drained
400g tinned tomatoes
2 tbs tbsps GAUCHO
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 brown onion, diced
2 tbs garlic, chopped
5 basil leaves
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Heat a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat and fry onion and garlic until fragrant.
Add GAUCHO and tomato paste, then cook stirring for ~30 seconds.
Add tinned tomato and stir in. Simmer on low.
Cook spaghetti according to packet directions ~12-15mins.
Strain spaghetti and add to the sauce to combine.
Serve into bowls and add flaked tuna on top. Garnish with basil and any extras. It's as quick and easy as that.