Rating: 4 stars 4
4 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 2
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0

Bechamel is such a wonderful ingredient for so many dishes. With tuna casserole, bechamel eliminates the need for a canned cream soup... its thick, creamy texture clings to the pasta and adds tremendous flavor overall. The amount used in this recipe keeps the entire casserole light but still filling.


Recipe Summary

15 mins
1 hr 10 mins
1 hr 25 mins
1 9x13-inch casserole


Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes less than directed on the package, about 9 minutes. Drain penne, reserving 1 cup pasta water, rinse, and set aside.

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish.

  • Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large, shallow saute pan. Stir in flour and continue stirring until golden, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Add minced onion, bay leaves, and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking until bechamel sauce thickens, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  • Place the cooked pasta into a large bowl. Add bechamel sauce and mix well. Crumble the drained tuna over the pasta. Add peas and Colby-Jack cheese; mix. Thin the mixture with 2 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Season with pepper and remaining salt. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.

  • Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add bread cubes; mix well until bread is completely coated. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Top casserole with this bread mixture and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until top is browned and golden, about 10 minutes more.

Cook's Notes:

You can substitute broccoli for peas. Use 1/4 cup minced fresh onion instead of dried, if preferred.

You can use panko bread crumbs instead of slices of bread.

Use Asiago cheese instead of Parmesan cheese and add more cheese, if desired.

Nutrition Facts

430 calories; protein 26.7g; carbohydrates 38.2g; fat 19.1g; cholesterol 64.6mg; sodium 601.8mg. Full Nutrition