Tuna Melt Pasta
I was recently at a diner and found myself spending a lot of extra time choosing what I wanted for lunch. This is a game I am terrible at. So many options leave me with so many opportunities to wonder if I ordered the wrong thing. I went with the safe option and ordered a tuna melt. It was definitely the wrong thing There were lots of things I wish I had ordered instead.
When I think of a tuna melt, a creamy cheesy happy fish island comes to mind. This was not that. Not even a little bit. So I decided to take back the idea of a tuna melt and make it even better than I had hoped it would be that day. This is definitely creamy and cheesy.
This recipe is a macaroni and cheese recipe I adapted from the Martha Stewart Comfort Food cookbook. It is one of my favorite cookbooks. Evidence of this can be seen in the stained and almost torn out pages. The macaroni and cheese page is one that has stains a plenty. This recipe is quite different than the original, but it is the same general method.
3 Tbs butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground mustard
2 1/4 -2 1/2 cups milk, warmed
3 cups of cheese, grated ( I used 2 1/2 cups of medium cheddar and 1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 lb short pasta, cooked (shells, macaroni, penne)
1 can of white Albacore Tuna
In a small saucepan, melt the butter until it begins to bubble.
I let the butter brown for about 30 seconds and then dump in the flour. Stir the flour until it looks like a thick paste.
Let the flour and butter cook for at least a minute. This shouldn't brown too much, but it does need to cook long enough to get the raw flour out.
Add in the salt, pepper, and ground mustard. If you like, you can also add in some cayenne pepper, but I prefer it without.
Add in the milk slowly, whisking as you combine it. Don't worry if it's lumpy, it will come back together. Whisk and cook the sauce until it bubbles slightly. This will create a thick sauce.
Once the sauce thickens, turn the heat down as low as it will go. Then, add in the cheeses. You can add whatever cheese combinations you like, just make sure at least half of it is a good melting cheese. Mozzarella and Cheddar are both good for melting. Sharper cheeses need some help melting, so make sure to pair them with a softer cheese.
Combine the sauce, tuna and the pasta together. I chose to use small shells, but any short cut pasta will work well. This can be served now and it will be very tasty. However, it will be even better if you bake it in the oven for a little bit!
Spray a medium sized casserole dish with non stick spray. Then load in all that cheesy pasta goodness.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it is bubbly in the center. I even put this under the broiler for a few minutes to create a nice crust.
This is a very rich and heavy dish, but in a good way. I serve this with a large side of vegetables or salad to make it a more balanced meal.