Mar 13

Mid-week Meals : Cheesy Tuna Bake


It is the middle of the week and it’s time for me to wreck my brains thinking what to make for dinner tonight. I loathe days like this. Its not exactly warm out this week so a warming meal would be most welcome, but I don’t intend on slaving away for hours either. This calls for my comfort food emergency meal ~ Tuna Bake. Most of the ingredients are found in my pantry so this means I only have to grab some fresh veggies at the supermarket. Cheap eats!



  • 2 cans tuna flakes in water or light oil, drained
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 40 g butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese of your choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Half a chicken stock cube
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper or sweet paprika
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Enough pasta to fill a baking dish. I usually use fusilli.


The awesome thing about this recipe is its versatility. Once you get a basic roux going, the rest is up to you. Add in bacon, corn, more veggies or omit them altogether. Take it up a few notches by adding your favourite herbs and spices even. But you must get your roux right, then move on to creating a béchamel sauce by pouring in cold milk. Mess up the basic steps and you will risk getting a lumpy or scorched sauce … and no one wants to taste burnt bits in this dish.


Roux Basics.

  • 40g butter

  • 1 tbsp plain flour

  • 1 cup cold milk

Roux is essentially cooking fat (lard, vegetable oil, butter, clarified butter) and mixing it with flour to form a sort of paste that functions as a thickening agent in sauces. Roux is the basis of many classic French sauces, and one of them is béchamel sauce.

The golden principle of making any thickened sauce is hot roux mixed with COLD liquid … in most cases it will be milk. Work with ratios ~ example 40 g (1 tbsp) fat to 1 tbsp plain flour. I usually use a combination of oil and butter especially if I am sautéing some onions and garlic prior to making the roux.


For a basic recipe all you really need are three ingredients to make the sauce, as stated above. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter. Then add the flour and stir until it forms a paste ~ the roux. Cook this paste for a few minutes to cook the rawness out of the flour. Now add some cold milk and stir constantly. This mixture will thicken almost instantly. Once the first addition has been absorbed, add the rest of the cold milk and stir to remove potential lumps. The longer you leave this on the fire the thicker the mixture will end up.


You have now made a basic béchamel sauce. Béchamel can be used to fill lasagne, baked canelloni, pies, stews and other baked pasta dishes.




Putting the Tuna Bake together :

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.

2. In a pot of salted water, boil some short pasta : curly pasta (fusilli), bow-ties (farfalle) , tubes (penne) or elbow pasta (macaronni).

3. Sauté your celery, red bell pepper, onions and garlic in another pan with some veggie oil. Cook on medium low until they soften. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.

4. Add butter and stir until it melts. Add the flour. Stir until a paste forms. Your veggies will clump together a little but fear not! Add half the cold milk and stir. Once the mix thickens, add the rest of the cold milk. Crumble in the chicken stock cube for flavour. I got this idea by watching hours and hours of Marco Pierre White’s Knorr stock cube promo vids. If stock cubes are good enough for Chef White then why not, eh?

5. Adjust milk quantity to achieve sauce viscousity to your liking. Take pot off the heat and stir in a handful of grated cheese to make a cheese sauce.

6. Not forgetting the pasta, drain and adjust seasoning. Toss the tuna flakes thru the pasta. Pour cheese sauce over the pasta and tuna. Toss to coat. It is totally up to you how much gooey cheese sauce you want in your pasta bake. I prefer mine to be just moist.

7. Transfer to a greased baking dish and bake for 30 mins at 180ºC.  Let it rest for a good 15 mins before serving. This dish is awesome if you want bowlfuls of stodgy yummy goodness.


~ ENJOY!! ~


Permanent link to this article: http://foodflurries.com/savoury/mid-week-meals-cheesy-tuna-bake

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *