This creamy tuna pasta bake is so comforting, as any pasta bake should be. It’s perfect now that the nights are getting a bit cooler and we’re looking to food (mostly pasta) to warm us up. It’s super cheesy and indulgent, whilst taking into consideration the fat/calorie level with some ingredient swaps and tricks.
I used tuna stored in brine in this recipe, which reduces the calories in comparison to oil packed tuna. It’s also more flavourful than tuna in water, in my opinion.
Mild cheddar adds a perfect richness to the creamy sauce and provides thickness and body to the sauce once melted. It also obviously crisps up amazingly to form the most flavourful golden cheese layer on top of the pasta bake.
With most creamy tuna pasta bakes, you’ll find that many people use a roux (flour, butter and milk) to form the base of the cheese sauce. I wanted to keep this recipe super simple by using cream cheese, cheddar and pasta water to create the cheesy sauce. This reduces the prep time before the oven for the pasta bake.
The best veggie pairing for tuna when served cold so we shouldn’t mess with perfection when whipping up this warm pasta dish.
Feel free to substitute your favourite pasta shape. Spirali would work amazingly, macaroni would be great. Or if you wanted to make.
Preheat oven to 180°C – Grill Start by adding the rigatoni to salted boiling water, set the timer, follow the packet instruction time minus 2 minutes.
Gently sweat the diced onion in olive oil until translucent.
In the same pan, add the drained tuna, cream cheese, grated cheddar and two ladles of pasta water. Stir until the cheese melts and a creamy sauce is achieved. Add extra pasta water as necessary.
Add the lemon juice and dijon mustard and stir into the sauce. Then season with salt and lots of pepper.
Then add the drained rigatoni, sweetcorn and cheesy tuna pasta sauce into to a large baking dish.
Stir to incorporate everything and top with the remaining cheddar.
Pop the cheesy tuna pasta bake under the grill for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is crispy and golden brown. Top with fresh parsley and season with salt and lots of black pepper.
Can you freeze it?
Yes definitely! I’d cook the whole batch in one baking dish and then divide into individual portions and freeze once cooled.
How do I reheat this recipe?
You can either reheat the tuna pasta bake in the microwave or oven. If you pop your heat proof meal prep dish under the grill for a couple of minutes you’ll get a better crispy cheese layer, but the microwave works just fine in a rush.
Can I use full fat cream cheese?
Yes you can, just bare in mind the fats/calories will increase.
Cook the whole batch as described in the recipe. Allow to cool and then divide into 6 meal prep containers. Store the parsley separately. When it’s time to eat, remove from the fridge/freezer and in the oven for 10 minutes or under the grill until crispy and golden. Season with salt and lots of black pepper and enjoy!
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