To get back to my original concept of comparing lifestyle and in particular, food and eating/shopping habits between the UK and France, I have to talk about ‘Ready meals’ (les plats prepare).
While you can buy frozen pizza and a very modest range of other ready prepared (mainly frozen) meals, notably from the excellent frozen food chain, ‘Picard’ (Do not think ‘Iceland’!), these are mainly restricted to frozen lasagne, cannelloni and such like, and I have yet to discover these items in any ‘chilled cabinet’ in the supermarkets – except for Marks and Spencer in Paris! And like ‘take-aways’, ready meals are a little ‘thin on the ground’……..
In the UK however, the aisles are packed with ready meals offering a plethora of choices. It is possible to eat in a different country every evening without leaving home – and without actually doing any cooking……………..
Walk down any supermarket’s aisles and you will be able to choose from Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, as well as ‘typically’ English meals such as Cauliflower Cheese, Toad in the hole, Vegetable Bake etc. In fact ‘bakes’ in some incarnation or other make up a large proportion of these meals, and pasta bakes are some of the most popular.
I mentioned in my post for ‘Salmon Pesto Bake’ that the French don’t do bakes, and in fact when I showed the above photo to some of my students who are following ‘A Taste of Two Cities’ they couldn’t quite grasp the concept of what it was, asking was it a ‘gratin’ thinking this was a side dish rather than a main course and found the inclusion of pasta and tuna a little strange. I have assured them that it is delicious and that they should try it – on verra………..
Ingredients Serves two generously
160g can of tuna (I prefer to use tuna in oil as it preserves more vitamins than water)
A can of chopped tomatoes – plus half a can of water
100g of pasta (I used ‘conchiglie’ – shells)
1 Small red onion roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic very finely chopped
½ a small green chilli finely chopped
1 red pepper roughly diced
1 green pepper roughly diced
A handful of black olives
A heaped teaspoon of capers
Dried oregano – to taste
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
A small ball of Buffalo Mozzarella roughly broken up
A good glug of olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof dish (a lasagne dish or similar)
Roast the onion and peppers for 20 minutes or until starting to brown
Add the garlic and chilli and roast for a further 3 or 4 minutes
Meanwhile cook the pasta until just al dente (take care not to overcook)
Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the tomatoes and the tuna and the water
Add the black olives and capers
Season with oregano, salt and pepper
Drain the pasta and mix with tomato and tuna mixture until well coated
Top with mozzarella and bake in a pre-heated oven at degrees/gas mark for 20 minutes or until heated through and the mozzarella is golden.
Serve with a fresh green salad and, if you really feel indulgent, some hot crusty baguette and a nice bottle of light red wine such as a Val de Loire………..
Bon apetit tout le monde!