This tuna pasta bake is a truly delicious family-friendly recipe, yet it’s totally simple and easy! This comforting and flavorful dinner is made with mostly pantry ingredients that you probably already have. Ready in just half an hour!
A pasta bake is definitely one of the best comfort foods that we know, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be loaded with calories and fats. Here’s a healthier version of the pasta bake that is creamy, and your family will love.
This pasta bake is comforting, yet not too heavy, it’s flavourful and has the best textures. If you love tuna, then you’re going to love this. I wouldn’t say that this tuna pasta bake is loaded with the taste of tuna, but the taste is obvious and mixed with cheesy and creamy flavors.
Cooked pasta is tossed in a smooth cheesy bechamel sauce, then mixed with flaked tuna, sweet corn, and peas. The seasonings are quite simple, and things that you already have in your kitchen.
My favorite part? The cheesy topping! Place under the broiler for the cheese to melt, and crisp up a bit. DELICIOUS!
To make this pasta bake, you will need mostly pantry ingredients.
- Pasta – use any dried pasta shape (but avoid flat/long shapes).
- All purpose flour, whole milk, unsalted butter, and mozzarella cheese.
- Seasonings – Italian seasoning, ground nutmeg, black pepper, salt, and garlic.
- Sweet corn – canned or frozen.
- Peas – canned or frozen (I prefer frozen peas).
- Tuna – drained and flaked.
How to make tuna pasta bake
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, and drain from cooking water.
To make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a large pot or saucepan, and add the flour. Mix it together with a spatula so that a paste forms. Then gradually add the milk and whisk until you get a creamy sauce.
Whisk in the seasonings; Italian seasoning, nutmeg, pepper, salt, and garlic.
Add the peas, sweetcorn, flaked tuna, and pasta. And mix everything well.
Pour the mixture into a baking pan, and top with grated mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, then broil the top until it starts to brown (3-5 minutes).
Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve warm.
Here are my top tips to make the perfect baked tuna pasta dish:
- Make sure that pasta is cooked until just “al dente”, remember it will be cooking a bit longer in the oven so overcooking the pasta will make it lose structure.
- Choose the right type of pasta. I wouldn’t make this with noodles or thin flat-shaped pasta as the sauce will slide off to the bottom of your baking dish, resulting in dried out pasta and a pool of sauce at the bottom. Go for pasta shapes such as penne, fusilli or farfalle.
- When making the bechamel sauce, if it becomes too thick, just thin it out with additional milk. If it’s too thin, cook it a bit longer but make sure that you keep whisking as you cook it.
- When you add the flour to the melted butter, don’t cook it for too long to avoid getting that floury taste in the sauce.
- I usually use canned tuna in water, it helps cut down on the calories. However, canned tuna in oil gives more flavor.
- I used peas and corn, but feel free to change things up and add more vegetables such as steamed broccoli, green beans, roasted bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes.
Fridge: Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Reheat: Reheat in the microwave or in the oven. If the pasta is too dry, add a splash of water and reheat. Mix before eating.
Freezer: Freeze in portions in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- A large pot or pan. Make sure that you’re using the right size of pot or pan, as you’ll be mixing all of the ingredients in it after making the sauce.
- A baking dish. Choose the right size so that it fits. I used 30x20cm (9×12 inches).
- Whisk. A must-have!
- Garlic press. A kitchen essential.
- Grater. I always grate cheese at home as it’s much fresher than store-bought already grated cheese.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (50 grams)
- ¼ cup (50 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2.5 cups (600 ml) whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 cup (100 grams) mozzarella cheese grated – divided
- 200 grams peas
- 200 grams sweet corn
- 300 grams canned tuna drained and flaked
- 4 cups (400 grams) dried pasta
- 2 tablespoons Parsley chopped – for serving
- 20x30cm – 9×12 inches baking dish
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, and drain.
- Make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan, and add the flour. Mix it together with a spatula so that a paste forms. Then gradually add the milk and whisk until you get a creamy sauce.
- Whisk in the seasonings; Italian seasoning, nutmeg, pepper, salt, and garlic. Add half of the cheese, and mix it in so that it melts.
- Add the peas, sweetcorn, flaked tuna, and pasta. And mix everything well.
- Pour the mixture into a baking dish (I used 20x30cm – 9×12 inches cast iron baking dish), and top with the rest of the grated mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, then broil the top until it starts to brown (3-5 minutes).
- Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve warm.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen
This recipe first appeared on Little Sunny Kitchen in September 2017, but was updated with new images and more information in March 2020.