Feb 28, 2013

Tuna Melt Mac and Cheese

The inspiration for this came from a Rachael Ray show I watched a couple days ago.  Here is her original recipe, and I will say what I did differently in (parentheses).  It was very yummy - actually exceeded my expectations.  Although it is fat and calorie laden, you could lighten it up a little by using low fat ingredients adn whole grain pasta and breadcrumbs. 

Tuna Melt Mac 'n' Cheese


  • Salt
  • 1 pound hollow cavatappi or elbows with lines, or macaroni with lines
  • About 3 tablespoons EVOO, plus extra for drizzling
  • 12 ounces line-caught canned tuna, drained (3 cans regular tuna - 15oz)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley and tarragon (a little dried parsley)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or scallions, whites and greens (yellow onion)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (1 1/2 TBS spicy brown mustard)
  • 1 to 2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced (left out)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stick butter (plus 4 TBS - 6TBS total for the sauce, 4TBS total for bread crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons flour (increased sauce by 50% so 4 1/2TBS flour)
  • About 2 1/2 cups whole milk (3 1/4 cup milk)
  • 2 cups grated white Cheddar or gruyere cheese (1 block extra sharp cheddar, and 1/2 block Colby Jack which a little Monterrey Jack shredded in there too)
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade breadcrumbs or panko (about 1 1/2 sleeves worth crackers crushed - Ritz and Toll House - used up what I had)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parm (omitted)


Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to less than al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and drizzle with a touch of oil to keep the pasta loose. (I put the pasta back in the large pot, then used it to combine everything else before putting it in a 9x13)

In a large bowl, flake the tuna and add the herbs (reserving a tablespoon or 2 (4) for breadcrumbs), onions, mustard, celery, lemon juice, EVOO and some salt and pepper. Add the pasta and combine well. Transfer to a baking dish or large casserole dish. (put everything into the large pot with the cooked pasta)

In a medium saucepot, melt 4 (6) tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Then whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper, thicken to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the Cheddar (all cheese) in a figure-eight motion. Pour the sauce evenly over the pasta and tuna. Gently combine with a spoon to settle the sauce (this is why I used the big pot - stir to well coated). Cool and store for a make-ahead meal. (could freeze)

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and add the breadcrumbs and reserved herbs (omitted herbs), toss to evenly distribute the butter, remove from heat and transfer to airtight container.

To prepare, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bring the casserole to room temperature. Top the casserole with breadcrumbs and Parm cheese (omitted Parm). Bake until golden and hot through (about 30-40 minutes, make sure the breadcrumbs don't burn - cover with foil if necessary).

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