Tuna Melt Mac ‘n Cheese
Rach combines two American favorites in this make-ahead recipe.
- 1 pound hollow cavatappi, elbows with lines or macaroni with lines, regular or whole grain
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for drizzling, plus about 3 tablespoons
- 12 ounces line-caught canned tuna, drained (such as salt-free American sustainable canned tuna from Lobster Place)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped herbs such as dill, parsley and tarragon
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or scallions, whites and greens
- 1-2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 stick butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons flour
- About 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups grated white cheddar or Gruyère cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups homemade breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to less than al dente, 5-6 minutes. Drain and drizzle with a touch of oil to keep the pasta loose.
- In a large bowl, flake the tuna and add the herbs (reserving a tablespoon or two to mix with the breadcrumbs). Add the onion and celery; dress with lemon juice and 3 tablespoons EVOO and the Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the pasta and combine well; transfer to baking dish or large casserole.
- In a medium size saucepot, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Whisk in the flour, cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Thicken to coat a spoon; stir in the cheddar or Gruyère and half of the parmesan cheese in figure-eight motion. Pour the sauce evenly over the pasta and the tuna and gently combine with a spoon to settle the sauce. Cool and chill for a make-ahead meal.
- Melt the remaining butter in a small pan; add the breadcrumbs and reserved herbs. Toss to evenly distribute the butter, then remove from the heat and transfer to an airtight container.
- To prepare, bring the casserole to room temperature and pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
- Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan and bake until golden and hot through.