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Tuna Melt Mac ‘n Cheese

Serves 6

Rach combines two American favorites in this make-ahead recipe.


  • Salt
  • 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
  • Pepper
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. To prepare, bring the casserole to room temperature and pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
  6. Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan and bake until golden and hot through.