This dish is truly tuna pasta, as it isn’t baked, but cooked on the stove-top. With mushrooms, green onion red pepper and bowtie pasta (Farfalle), all in a creamy Parmesan sauce.
If you’re looking for a fabulous pasta with canned tuna, this is a long-time favourite of mine. This tuna pasta is not a baked tuna casserole (not that there’s anything wrong with that :). This creamy tuna pasta is made entirely on the stove-top, just like any other pasta dish.
Why I love this creamy pasta with tuna
- I love that this pasta with tuna has no chance of drying out in the oven, since it isn’t baked. It’s always fabulously creamy, as a result.
- The creamy sauce is made with just milk and flour, so no cream is needed for this creamy pasta.
- All the parts of this dish have great flavour, from the mushrooms, to the red pepper and green onion, all in a creamy Parmesan sauce. And of course bowtie pasta (Fafalle), which is always a fun pasta.
What you’ll need to make this tuna pasta
Some notes on the key ingredients …
Tuna – I use regular flaked tuna packed in water. You will need two cans for the full recipe.
Pasta – The bowtie shape Farfalle pasta is specified, though any short pasta will work here.
Mushrooms – I’ve used cremini mushrooms here, but regular white button mushrooms are fine as well.
Milk – I generally use 2% milk, which seems to work out well. 3% or 1% is fine, though 1% might make for a bit thinner sauce.
Green onion – green onion is specified, but if you don’t have on hand, simply use some regular diced onion.
Breadcrumbs or Panko – I think panko makes for a nicer crisp, while breadcrumbs bring more flavour. Use what you have or prefer.
- Start by cooking the red pepper, mushrooms and green onion in butter until softened.
- Add flour to the pan and cook briefly.
- Add the milk and chicken broth to the pan.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
- Cook the sauce until it coats the back of the spoon.
- Add the first portion of Parmesan cheese, the cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add to the pot.
- Add the tuna and stir to combine and warm. Spoon into serving dish and top with parsley, additional Parmesan and panko. Pop under the broiler briefly to brown the panko, then serve.
- This is one of those recipes that really benefits from having all your ingredients prepped, measured and ready to go. It’s not that this is a complicated recipe, but more that the steps happen quickly, so if you’re rushing to prep the ingredients on the fly, it just seems like a bit too frantic for my liking.
- Be sure to salt as you go. I like to salt the mushrooms, then salt the sauce. Of course, salt the pasta water, too. Finally, have a quick taste at the end of cooking and add a bit more salt, if needed.
As you are making this tuna pasta, remember that this isn’t a casserole that will be baked. As such, you’ll want to make sure that you cook the pasta until it’s done (not a few minutes less as you might do for a dish that will be baked). Likewise, simmer the sauce to the consistency of a finished sauce and not one that will thicken more as it bakes, since there is no baking with this one.
This pasta would also be nice if you swap out the tuna for left-over cooked chicken (or chicken from a rotisserie chicken) or left-over cooked turkey. Simply shred the chicken or turkey and stir in at the end of cooking when the tuna is typically added.
If you want to skip the oven entirely, you can toast the panko in the butter in a skillet until golden and simply sprinkle on top of the finished pasta.
Making ahead, storing and freezing
This dish is at its best freshly cooked and I wouldn’t recommend making ahead. That said, left-overs will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, though it will not be quite as saucy as it was freshly made.
Re-heat covered to keep it from becoming dry when re-heated.
You can freeze this tuna pasta for up to 3 months, though it may be less saucy after freezing and re-heating. Sometimes a splash of milk drizzled over-top helps to loosen it when re-heating.
Get the Recipe: Creamy Tuna Pasta
- 10 oz. bow tie pasta (Farfalle), about 4 cups
- 5 Tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 8 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 green onions, white and green part, chopped
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 12 oz canned tuna, packed in water, drained and flaked with a fork (2 cans)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated recommended
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated recommended
- 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped (optional)
- 1/3 cup panko
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- Tip! This is one of those recipes that really benefits from having all the ingredients preps and measured and ready. Not because it's complicated, but simply because the steps move quickly and if you are trying to prep on the fly, it can get a bit challenging.
- Have an oven-safe baking dish ready, about 2 qt. in size.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well. Return the pasta to the cooking pot. Tip! Make sure the pasta is fully cooked, as this dish isn't going into the oven to cook further.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the red pepper and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and green onion and sprinkling of salt. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mushroom juices evaporate and the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir well. Cook, stirring, about 45-seconds. Stir in the milk and broth and bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes (sauce should coat the back of a spoon). Remove from heat and stir in the tuna, 1/2 cup Parmesan and the cayenne. Stir this into the pasta mixture and season with salt and pepper, to taste
- Spoon the pasta into an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley, if using. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter and combine with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top.
- Put casserole dish under the broiler in the oven, just until the topping is nicely golden, about 2-3 minutes. Serve.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!