Tuna Melt Mac ’n’ Cheese
Another diner classic mash-up: the tuna melt meets mac ’n’ cheese.
- 2 (6-ounce) cans line-caught water-packed, no?salt-added tuna, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs: dill, parsley, tarragon
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or scallions
- 1 or 2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling
- Salt and pepper
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups grated white cheddar or Gruyère cheese, or a combination
- 1 pound cávatappi or ridged elbow macaroni
- 1 1/2 cups homemade dry breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
[If making this to serve on Cook Day, preheat the oven to 400°F. If making this to serve later in the week you’ll preheat the oven on the night of.
Flake the tuna into a large bowl. Set aside 2 tablespoons herbs and add the remainder to the tuna. Add the onion, celery, lemon juice, mustard, EVOO, and salt and pepper.
In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, season with salt and pepper, and cook the sauce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the cheddar and stir in a figure-8 until melted.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the tuna salad and cheese sauce and combine well. Transfer to a shallow 2- to 3-quart baking dish.
Make-ahead: Cool, cover, and refrigerate.
In a skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add the breadcrumbs and reserved 2 tablespoons herbs and toss to mix evenly. Remove from the heat and cool, then stir in the Parm.
Make-ahead: Transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature.
Night of: Return the casserole to room temp while you preheat the oven to 400°F.
Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs and bake until golden and hot through, 20 to 25 minutes.