A healthier creamy tuna pasta bake packed with loads of vegetables and even some secret beans (shh!). The perfect family friendly pasta dish that works for toddlers and grown ups. There are options to make this gluten free, lactose free or even dairy free.
Pasta, sauce and cheese, is there anything more satisfying to tuck into for dinner? As the evenings have become cooler and darker here, one of our staple dinners has become a cosy bowl of pasta. So, I thought I’d try my hand at a classic tuna pasta bake, because CRAVINGS. And also because I’m obsessed with making anything that can be oven baked, it’s the safest way to ensure dinner will actually be ready and warm once we’re done wrestling with the toddlers in the evening!
Of course, because I do like to balance my meals out with a whole lotta veggies, I made a creamy tuna pasta bake with a little bit of a twist. Lots of vegetables yes, and on top of that, some hidden white beans in the sauce.
Hidden beans are awesome (yay for fibre + protein) but truthfully I also decided to make my pasta sauce this way because I am lazy and didn’t want to thicken my sauce with flour. This would have required stirring milk around a pan with the flour and butter, adding in a more time-consuming extra step. With the beans, all I did was blend tinned cannellini beans with the milk and seasonings and pour it straight into the baking dish. WIN.
Cannellini beans are also sometimes called white kidney beans or simply white beans. They basically look like a slightly smaller kidney bean in shape. I like using them in sauces and dips because they have thin skins and a soft fluffy texture, so they blend up nice and smooth.
You can adjust this recipe to cater for gluten free, lactose free or even dairy free if you need to!
- Gluten free: simply use gluten free pasta. In the pasta bake pictured I used up a combination of gluten free rice pasta and pulse pasta. Pulse pasta is pasta made from beans like chickpeas, lentils etc. which is also gluten free. It’s just what we had in the cupboard at the time!
- Lactose free: for the milk, use lactose free cows milk or swap to unsweetened soy or unsweetened almond milk. Use lactose free cheese (you can buy lactose free grated cheese at our local supermarket, I hope it’s the same for you).
- Dairy free: use unsweetened soy or unsweetened almond milk. Use a non-dairy grated cheese substitute i.e. a vegan cheese. I really, really recommend using a proper vegan cheese substitute that will melt like regular cheese, don’t just throw in a few handfuls of nutritional yeast, it’s just not the same.
This is really a very flexible dish so I wanted to try and put as many options in there as possible. You can use whatever pasta shape you like, most milks work, most veggies work, and hey if you don’t like tuna you could use some tinned salmon instead. Or even some leftover shredded cooked chicken. You do you!
This is a lovely, family friendly recipe that is just a nice way to pop all your staple veggies + some budget-friendly tuna + pasta into one delicious meal. Plus it involves cheese that gets baked in the oven into melty goodness, so you know it’s going to be tasty! If you really want it to be super cheesy, then add more grated cheese than I have suggested in the recipe. You could probably add up to one cup more, depending on how much of a cheese addict you are!
If you make this Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake, take a snap and tag me on Instagram @moniquecormacknutrition or leave me a comment below and tell me what you used in yours 🙂
p.s. if you love a good pasta bake, can I also recommend my Vegetarian Baked Gnocchi with Lentils for something a little different? Also super budget friendly and a great way to boost your veggie intake!
- 3 cups pasta measured uncooked
- 350-400 grams tinned tuna in olive oil
- extra virgin olive oil for greasing the dish
- 1 cup peas frozen
- 1 cup corn kernels canned or frozen
- 1-2 cups frozen vegetables extra e.g. sliced green beans, broccoli florets, sliced carrots
- 1 large handful baby spinach
- 2 spring onions
- 1 can cannellini beans (400g)
- 2 and 1/2 cups milk of choice (just make sure it's unsweetened)
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1-2 tbsp dijon mustard (*some mustards are stronger than others, adjust to taste!)
- 1 and 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to season
- Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a large baking dish with a little extra virgin olive oil.
- Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, and set aside. Finely chop the spring onions and set aside as well.
- Drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Place in a blender or food processor with the milk, garlic powder, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
- Place cooked pasta, all of the vegetables, tuna and spring onion in the baking dish. Make sure tuna is flaked through rather than being in really large chunks. Pour over the milk mixture and add in half of the cheese. Stir everything together and then arrange evenly in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and the top of the pasta bake is turning crispy and golden.