This dish is a very beloved family recipe that I am honored to be allowed to share with you! It’s creamy and savory and crispy at the top! If you love tuna, you will love this!
The first time I ate this pasta casserole must have been in 2014 on my first trip to South Africa. We were visiting my in laws and my lovely mother in law made this gorgeous pasta dish for us. Back then, it was hard to find something that everyone could eat since I was still a vegetarian (well, strictly speaking, I was a pescetarian). And our then youngest one hardly liked anthing at all. I still remember that it was on that trip that I discovered he liked tuna!
I like tuna too, in fact I like tuna a lot. However, growing up, we never ever ate tuna in my family cause my mum couldn’t stand the smell. Like she literally hated it. So only when I moved out eventually, I started cooking with tuna. Before that, it was just the occasional tuna salad when she was out. And this dish was one of the ones that later one became a staple with my husband and our boys.
A while ago, I asked my mother in law if it would be ok to share my version of her dish on my blog and she said she would be delighted. Hers is very similar but I find when recreating dishes, we often give it our own little spin.
This dish is really super easy to make. And since it uses pantry and fridge staples, you can even make it spontaneously if you have no idea what to make! It’s creamy and savory and cheesy and everyone who I ever made it for loved it!
It’s kind of like a lasagna but with tuna. Noodles layered with a tomato based tuna sauce, bechamel sauce and topped with cheese! Baked in the oven until it’s crispy at the top and gooey on the inside! It’s so good! Normally, we all have seconds because it’s truly delicious.
Over the years, I discovered that there are two vital steps to make this extra delicious. One is to undercook the noodles. If you cook them according to the package instructions, they will become too mushy after baking them in the sauce. However, if you undercook them slightly, they will still be perfect when they’re finished baking. The second important step is that the bechamel sauce is on the runnier side. If the sauce is too thick, it all sticks together somehow. I like it more when it doesn’t.
Will you make this for dinner soon? Or how about my Roasted Butternut & Ricotta Lasagna?
Oma Val’s Tuna Pasta Casserole
This dish is a very beloved family recipe that I am honored to be allowed to share with you! It's creamy and savory and crispy at the top! If you love tuna, you will love this!
Pre-heat oven to 180°C (356°F).
Cook pasta according to package instructions but take out of the water 1 minute earlier (very important!). Drain well and mix with a splash of olive oil so that the pasta doesn't stick together.Undercooking the pasta ensures they won't end up all mushy when baked
Drain two of the three cans of tuna. In a big pan, add the three cans of tuna (one with the oil), salt, garlic powder and oregano. Mix and break the tuna with a spatula. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
In a pot, heat up the milk. In a different pot, melt the butter. Let it brown for a minute. Add the flour and whisk in well. Let it cook for a minute. Add the milk to the mixture in three parts, mixing very well every time. Add spices and mustard. Simmer until the sauce has cooked down a bit but make sure to whisk it often so nothing sticks at the bottom of the pot!
Time to start layering in a big casserole dish. Start off with a bit of the tuna tomato sauce. Add about 1/3 of the cooked pasta, then more tuna tomato sauce and some Bechamel sauce. Repeat until all has been used up. Top with the grated cheese.
Bake at 180°C (356°F) for 30 minutes until the top layer of cheese is crispy and browned. Enjoy!