On those crazy weekday nights when you get home late, or the kids are dashing off to a game or practice, a dinner like this can be a lifesaver.
And my boys absolutely loved it. It was definitely one of their favorites.
It’s also about as cheap as any fish-based meal can be - if you do as I do.
Be aware, too, that there’s also a very noticeable price difference between white albacore tuna and chunk light tuna, with albacore usually double or more in cost. The budget conscious always go with the chunk light to save money.
The same goes for pasta. I use whole grain pasta almost exclusively, which is definitely more expensive than white flour pasta, but because I wait for the sales and stock up then, I manage to keep my costs down and still maintain a healthier diet.
However, in the early days of our married lives together, we could not afford such things, even on sale, so if white flour pasta is what fits your budget, then by all means, buy that instead of the more costly whole grain stuff.
You can still make sure you’re getting enough fiber and whole grains by including fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads (minimum of 3 grams of fiber per serving), and foods such as legumes in your regular menu planning.
You also have a couple of different options for the cut-up broccoli called for in this recipe. Of course, using fresh broccoli is one option, and honestly, nothing beats the flavor of fresh produce.
But sometimes the frozen variety is actually cheaper, and it can save a bit of time and labor. So if those are major considerations for you, then by all means use the more convenient packaged version.
But any time you can get the fresh produce for the same price or less than the frozen, then I strongly recommend that you give it a try. It's well worth the little bit of extra effort. You won’t be disappointed.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 8 generous servings
Prep Time - Approx. 20 minutes
Start to finish meal preparation time – Approx. 30 minutes
Total recipe cost – Approx. $9.00
Total per person meal cost with tossed salad and garlic bread– Approx. $1.75
1 large head of broccoli or 6-8 cups of frozen broccoli cuts (about 1½ pounds)
4 cloves garlic
1 28-32 ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
24 ounces (2 large cans or 3-4 small cans) chunk light tuna, packed in water (undrained)
2½ cups water
3½ cups rotini or similar pasta, preferably whole grain (
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
¼ cup cream, half and half, whole milk, or skim milk (optional)
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
For the Meal:
-Loaf of fresh, unsliced bread, preferably whole grain (optional, for garlic bread)
-Butter, margarine, olive oil (optional, for garlic bread)
-Garlic powder (optional, for garlic bread)
-Tossed green salad
Recipe continues after photos.
- Wash and cut up the broccoli, stems and all, into pieces about 1-2 inches in size. Or, if you are using frozen broccoli, thaw it in a microwavable container on low power in the microwave for about 3-5 minutes. Drain it well.
- Set the broccoli aside.
- Peel and chop the 4 cloves of garlic.
- Open the 29-32-ounce can of tomato product and set it aside.
- Heat the 1-2 tablespoons of oil in large (4-6 quart) saucepan with a lid.
- Sauté/cook the garlic in the oil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the canned tomatoes, the 1 teaspoon of salt, and the ½ teaspoon of pepper and stir together. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the 2½ cups of water, cover and turn to high to bring to a boil. It will take about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the 3½ cups of pasta, cover the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Set a timer to remind yourself.
- When the timer goes off, add the broccoli, stirring it in to distribute it evenly. Re-cover the pot and resume cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the pasta is al dente, and the broccoli is tender, but not mushy. Again, set a timer to remind yourself.
- Meanwhile, drain the tuna, reserving some of the liquid. When the pasta is done al dente, and the broccoli is firm/tender, add the tuna to the pot and stir in gently, breaking up the larger chunks, as necessary with a fork or other utensil. Heat through for a minute or two.
- Pour in the cream, if you're using it, and carefully stir to blend. Heat through for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add some of the reserved tuna liquid to add moisture, if desired. The meal is ready to serve.
- Serve the pasta topped with fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired, and a tossed salad and fresh or garlic bread on the side.