Tuna Mornay is how you elevate canned tuna above a glum pantry staple or worse still, a desperate meal eaten straight from the can! It’s a tuna casserole pasta bake with a creamy sauce, sweet pops of corn and crunchy topping, baked until golden and bubbly.
Simple to make, economical and oh-so-delish!
I moved out of home straight after finishing high school at the tender age of 18, so it will come as no surprise to you that I had my fair share of meals comprising canned tuna in various, completely unappetising forms. Dumped into rice, on pasta, on toast (with melted cheese!) and the worst offender of them all – eaten straight out of a can.
Which, nowadays, is more acceptable with the dizzying array of flavours available – chilli, lemon pepper, Portuguese.
Back then, it was not. 😂
I’m glad I’ve evolved beyond that. Canned tuna can be used in all sorts of delicious ways – and this Tuna Mornay pasta bake tops the list!
What is Tuna Mornay?
Tuna Mornay is the Aussie name for a tuna casserole pasta bake made with canned tuna and pasta in a creamy white sauce. There’s various forms of add ins – often corn, sometimes peas – and it’s topped with something crunchy. A parmesan breadcrumb topping is my favourite, but there are versions “out there” with crushed cornflakes, crispy fried onions and even potato crisps. (Yes, really, google it)
Prefer tomato based pasta bakes?
Try this Tomato Tuna Pasta Bake!
What you need for Tuna Casserole
Here’s what you need:
Just a note on a few of the items:
Vegeta stock powder / granulated bouillon / seasoning (same thing!!) is the secret ingredient here that makes the white sauce extra tasty. It’s salt – with flavour. I like using Vegeta, which is a Vegetable stock powder (herbs & spices aisle of everyday grocery stores!). Read more here about Vegeta here (including MSG misconceptions & what else to use it for!)
Tuna – tuna in oil is tastier (full stop!) but spring water or brine is fine too; and
Corn (and other veggies) – peas and corn can be added uncooked and even frozen straight into the dish. For things like diced carrots (frozen or fresh), I’d recommend cooking them first as they won’t cook in the bake time for this recipe. I just use corn – because it’s the classic add in.
Melt butter, mix in flour, then whisk in milk – the flour will make the sauce thick and creamy;
Add in parmesan and other sauce flavourings (including our secret ingredient, Vegeta);
Flake the tuna into large-dish chunks so it doesn’t turn into mush when you mix it through, then mix it all up together;
Tip into a baking dish, top with crunchy Panko-parmesan topping and bake until it’s golden on top and bubbling on the edges!
And here’s an up close and personal of what’s under that crunchy golden topping. Love that creamy sauce!
What to serve with Tuna Mornay
Unless you load it up with more extra vegetables (it can take about 2 cups extra AND you can sub some of the pasta for more vegetables), I’d recommend some veggies or a crisp salad on the side – just to complete the meal! Here are a few suggestions:
Veg and salad side suggestions
Otherwise, make up your own garden salad or steamed vegetables and drizzle with a quick Balsamic Dressing, French Dressing or Italian Dressing.
Enjoy! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
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Tuna Mornay (Creamy Tuna Casserole Pasta Bake)
- 350g / 12oz penne pasta (or other short pasta)
- 40g / 3 tbsp butter
- 3 garlic cloves , finely minced
- 4 tbsp (50g) flour , plain/all purpose
- 4 cups (1 litre) milk , any fat %, dairy or non dairy (1 quart)
- 2 tsp Vegeta, or chicken or veg stock powder/granulated bouillon (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup (50g) parmesan , finely shredded
- 1/2 tsp each mustard powder, onion and garlic powder (Note 2)
- 425g / 15 oz canned tuna , preferably in oil, drained (sub salmon)
- 400g / 14 oz canned corn , drained (or other veg, Note 3)
- 25g / 1.5 tbsp butter , melted
- 1/2 cup (60g) panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4g (25g) parmesan , finely grated
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Chives or parsley , optional garnish
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Crunchy Topping – Mix together.
- Cook pasta per packet directions MINUS 1 minute. Drain then allow to cool slightly, then return into pot.
- White Sauce – Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add flour and stir into melted butter. While whisking, gradually pour in about 1/3 of the milk. Once the flour-butter mixture is incorporated into the milk, pour in remaining milk and whisk.
- Add Vegeta, mustard, onion and garlic powder, whisk.
- When the milk starts to heat up, whisk constantly to make sure the white sauce doesn’t catch on the base.
- After 4 – 5 minutes, the sauce should be thick enough that you can draw a path across the back of a spoon (see video). Remove from stove and stir in parmesan.
- Assemble & Bake – Add tuna into pasta and flake into large chunks with fork (not too much, don't want it to turn to mush when stirred). Add corn, pour over sauce, then gently stir.
- Scrape into baking dish, top with Crunchy Topping.
- Bake 25 minutes until top is golden and edges are bubbling. Sprinkle with chives if desired then serve!
More proof – canned tuna CAN be delicious!
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