So we are very close to the school holidays now and I can't wait! I'm so looking forward to spending more time with my girl. She has been busy these last few weeks and I feel like we have been missing out on some quality time together. But this, my friends, is the life of a Year 6. It's school plays, trips, discos and sports days. All of which seem to have been wrapped up into two very busy weeks. But it is also the end of an era, the end of primary school and there is a lot to celebrate. And I'm holding it together, just! So when schedules get busy the food gets easy and sometimes it needs to be more like comfort food for a tired girl. With that in mind, I'm sharing this Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake with you today. My girl's favourite comfort food.
Now I know you may be thinking how can you possibly make this classic any better? Well, everyone has their own tried and tested version of this classic. This is mine, with one or two little tricks that make this pasta bake really tasty. Trick no.1, I use panko breadcrumbs in the topping, which combined with mature cheddar cheese and parmesan gives this bake a really nice crunch on top. I bash the breadcrumbs in a small bag with a rolling pin so they are really fine. Trick no.2, I add 1 heaped teaspoon of English mustard to the sauce to give it a little bit more zing. That's it, easy peasy, but it does make a difference.
I have been making this tuna pasta bake for years, it has been refined over time and it has been tested on many children over the years. Yes, tuna pasta bake is perfect for playdates. And this recipe never fails. It is easy to make and is relatively quick. The sauce comes together whilst the pasta is cooking, then it's just a case of mixing it all together, adding a little topping and popping it in the oven. Job done! This tuna pasta bake is creamy but not too wet. It has the best crunchiest topping, which is actually my favourite part of a good tuna pasta bake.
I usually make this when we are busy so I save half of it for another day. You can freeze it once cooled completely, or keep it in the fridge for a day or two. You could divide it up into individual portions to speed up the cooling process. If you want to freeze any leftovers, cover before freezing and thaw fully before reheating. Saying that I don't have a problem with having this two days in a row. By the way, tuna pasta bake is also a great recipe for new college kids to have mastered before they head off to Uni. It's cheap and easy to make and it's also a good cure for homesickness!
Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
- 500 g Rigatoni Pasta
- 2 x 120g tins of tuna steak in spring water drained
- 50 g butter
- 50 g plain (all purpose) flour
- 600 ml milk
- 1 heaped tsp English mustard
- 150 g mature cheddar cheese grated
- 1 x 198 g can of sweetcorn drained
- 3 large spring onions (scallions) sliced
- 40 g dried breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ tablespoon parmesan cheese finely grated
- 1 small handful flat leaf parsley chopped
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshy ground black pepper
- Pre heat the oven to 180 degree C / 356 F, I use an electric fan oven, please adjust according to your own oven.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions minus 2 or 3 minutes. You want the pasta to slightly under done.
- While the pasta is cooking make the sauce. Melt the butter on a medium saucepan. Once melted add the flour, stir for about 1 minute. Then pour in the milk, I add 100ml at a time. I use a whisk to stir in the milk. This has always worked to achieve a really smooth sauce.
- As soon as all the milk has been added, stir in the mustard and a small pinch of the black pepper. When the sauce has thickened and starts to bubble turn off the heat then add 100g of the cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
- Drain the pasta, then tip it into a large, oven proof, serving dish. Add the tuna, sweetcorn, spring onions and most of the parsley to the pasta. Pour the sauce over the pasta then mix well.
- Top the pasta with the bread crumbs, the remaining cheddar, salt and pepper and the parmesan. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.
- Remove the pasta bake from the oven and let it sit for a minute or two, it will be piping hot. Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the pasta bake for serving. Serve with a green salad.
Need more creamy pasta? Check out this Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Tagliatelle or this Creamy Leek and Shiitake Mushroom Pasta