Tuna Spaghetti Pie; the kitchen garden

Remember Spaghetti Pie?

It was popular in the 70’s, I think….

Maybe it still is with the college crowd.

Back then I made it with ground beef, tomato sauce and cottage cheese.

This is made with an Italian linguini, tuna and a lovely goat’s milk fromage blanc.

Spaghetti Pie grows up.

One could say Tuna Casserole grew up as well.

Tuna Spaghetti Pie

Total time: 50 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • 4oz (125gr) mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 9oz (270gr) canned tuna, drained
  • 4oz (125gr) linguini 
  • 1 1/4 cups (10oz, 300gr) fromage blanc, goat’s milk if you can find it
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr) grated Parmesan

Spaghetti Pie with Tuna and Fromage Blanc

Instructions:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions.  
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic sauté until tender.
  • Put tuna into a bowl and break it up with a fork. 
  • Add half of the fromage blanc and mix lightly.
  • In large bowl lightly whisk the egg. 
  • Add the rest of the fromage blanc, herbs and whisk.
  • When pasta is done, drain well.  
  • Toss to cool a bit (do not rinse) then add to the egg mixture. 
  • Mix well and put into a baking dish. Pat into place. 

  • Spread onion/mushroom mixture evenly over the top. 
  • Spoon the tuna mixture on top. 
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan.  
  • Bake, covered with foil (or lid) at 400 F (200C) for 20 minutes. 
  • Remove foil (or lid) and bake 5 minutes longer.  Serve.

Spring continues….

Have you been bitten by the gardening bug yet?

Here are some (ahem) words of wisdom – or ‘How I plant my potager (kitchen garden)’.

Biggest tip – plant compactly.  It saves work in the preparation, in the on-going maintenance and in the watering.

I put big, leafy things like pumpkin, squashes and melons with the beans and corn.  They don’t mind a bit of dappled shade and they keep the weeds down and the ground moist for their taller neighbors. I put the tall skinny dill in with the cucumbers for the same reason.  This system give the tall plants the air space they need and the low plants the ground space they need.  You must learn to walk carefully by the end of summer, but it’s worth it.

I plant the lettuces and radishes anywhere they fit as they will be long gone before they have a chance to get in the way.

Example #1:  If you have 2 rows of tomatoes, spaced 24 inches apart, you have lots of room when the plants are young, but it gets pretty crowded when they are all producing tomatoes.
Space them 36 inches apart and you have lots of lovely room to pick your wonderful tomatoes…. And for those wonderful tomatoes to get lots of sun.
At the same time as you plant the tomatoes, plant an early crop, spinach, radishes or lettuce, down the middle – 18 inches from either row of tomatoes.  You’ll have lots of room in early summer, and, by the time the tomato plants are big, the early crop will be done.

Example #2: Sweet corn should be planted in blocks with each row spaced 3 feet apart and the plants 12 inches apart.  That’s a lot of wasted space.
Plant trailing vines like butternut or acorn squash.  They’ll find they’re way in and out of the corn stalks, providing shade to keep the weeds down and the ground moist for the corn.
Or plant the corn 4 feet apart and put one or two (that’s all you need, anyway) bush-type zucchini or summer squash (courgette) in the middle.

Example #3:  Plant pole beans rather than bush beans.  They’re much easier to harvest, you can space the rows 3 feet apart and plant melons or cucumbers in the middle.
Plus, bush beans produce one main crop all at once, then a smaller, second crop, all at once, perfect for preserving.  Pole beans produce small amounts continually for 6 – 8 weeks, perfect for eating.  And I usually have plenty for the freezer as well.

Example #4: If you want small gherkins for making pickles, let them climb like the beans, easier to harvest…. And you can plant a row of dill down the middle.

Example #5: Where ever you have large plants, like zucchini (courgette) or bush type acorn squash, plant radishes or lettuce around them in early spring.  It will all be harvested before the big plants get big.

This method of gardening gets a lot of vegetables in a much smaller space than a typical garden, which means less to maintain.  My garden is weed-free but I never weed and I don’t use chemicals.  I hoe.  More on weeds next week.

The only plants I buy are tomatoes.  And I don’t start anything early, in pots. I direct seed  right into the ground. I once did a test with zucchini.  I planted a seedling I had nursed for 6 weeks and a seed directly in the ground at the same time. 3 weeks later the plant from the seed was bigger and better than the transplanted seedling.

As to the yield: I don’t buy any vegetables or lettuce, other than carrots, celery, peppers, onions and garlic from mid-May through October.  I tried growing those 5 and, given my area, soil, etc.,  the yield wasn’t sufficient for the effort.

And I always end up with a freezer full of tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash and green beans….  I have a freezer just for vegetables.

Happy Spring!

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