This tuna pasta bake is a truly delicious classic family recipe, yet totally simple and easy! This dish is made with canned tuna, and it’s a meal that the whole family will love.
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 creamy and healthier version that you will be happy to make over and over again for yourself and your family.
This pasta bake is comforting, yet light, flavourful but also mild at the same time if that makes sense. I mean, it’s delicious in a way that your kids are going to love as well. The pasta is tossed in a simple creamy homemade béchamel sauce, along with flaked tuna, broccoli florets, and cherry tomatoes, then baked in the oven with a layer of melted cheese on top.
This pasta bake is great for any time of the year, we make it during the winter as it’s so comforting, but it’s also perfect for the summer as it makes wonderful picnic food or just to enjoy at home as it’s so easy to make.
THE PERFECT PASTA BAKE
So here are my tips for you to prepare that perfect baked pasta dish:
- Make sure that pasta is a bit undercooked. Yes, that’s correct, undercooked! To avoid mushy pasta, you must undercook it during the boiling phase. Remove the pasta from heat when it’s “al dente” or even a minute before that, as the pasta will be baked in the oven later so it will continue cooking in a hot boiling sauce!
- 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 penne, fusilli or farfalle.
TUNA PASTA BAKE INGREDIENTS
Because this is my midweek quick dinner recipe, I like to use tuna instead of adding meat or chicken. However, feel free to not include any kind of meat and make a vegetarian version of this pasta bake.
The tuna that I use is canned tuna in spring water (drained).
I also add broccoli, cherry tomatoes and of course my homemade creamy bechamel white sauce. You can also add ricotta cheese if you like a creamier texture, but I usually omit the ricotta to cut down the calories.
The sauce is really creamy, rich and flavourful! It’s also very easy to make. You will need butter, flour, milk, garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. And of course a saucepan and a whisk! The sauce will be thick and creamy, and using the whisk you will be able to get rid of all the lumps. I believe that the key to a perfect tuna pasta bake is a rich thick sauce so make sure to watch the video below to learn how to master the sauce!
TIP: 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.
HOW TO MAKE TUNA PASTA BAKE
Start by cooking the pasta according to the package instructions, but undercook it by 1 minute.
As the pasta cooks, make the bechamel white sauce.
Then drain the tuna, flake it, and toss everything together in a large mixing bowl. The pasta, the sauce, tuna and veggies.
Lightly grease a baking dish, and add your pasta mixture.
Sprinkle with a layer of grated cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes, then broil for a couple of minutes.
This pasta bake is best served warm, but it’s also really tasty if served cold. It stays creamy and does not dry out when packed in an airtight container for a packed lunch.
KID DINNER IDEAS FOR PICKY EATERS
If you’re cooking for a picky eater, and need to adjust this pasta a little. I can suggest using other vegetables if your child does not like broccoli or cherry tomatoes, corn, and carrot work really well for this pasta bake. You could also make this really simple and use pasta, tuna and a can of diced tomatoes, and finish it off with some herbs.
If you make this tuna pasta bake, please don’t forget to rate this recipe and share a picture on social media. Tag #LittleSunnyKitchen in your posts as I would really love to see what you make! Thank you for supporting Little Sunny Kitchen, so I can keep sharing my tasty recipes with you for free.
Tuna Pasta Bake
- 50 grams butter
- 50 grams all purpose flour
- 600 ml whole milk
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- a pinch of salt
- 500 grams penne pasta cooked
- 300 grams broccoli cooked
- 200 grams cherry tomatoes
- 1 tin of tuna in spring water drained and flaked
- 4 tbsp mozzarella cheese grated
- Preheat oven to 180c.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter, mix in the flour to create a paste.
- Gradually stir in milk to create a thick creamy sauce.
- Add garlic, nutmeg, black pepper and salt, whisk and remove from heat.
- Grease a ceramic baking dish (mine is 26cm).
- Add and mix pasta with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, tuna and sauce.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, and bake for 10 minutes. Broil for 2-4 minutes.