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Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole Recipe

Tuna Casserole is a popular dish that contains tuna, pasta, peas, creamy sauce, and a panko topping. It makes a beautiful family meal during the week since it is super easy to whip up on any occasion with the ingredients you have on hand. 

A tuna casserole from Barefoot Contessa makes for hot and comforting food, especially when paired with other Ina Garten staples like chicken divan or quiche. 

Tuna Casserole has a creamy texture and delicious fish flavor, which you can’t resist. So today, we’ll be sharing the best Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole recipe with easy-to-follow instructions.

How to Make Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole

The dish’s complexity makes this Tuna Casserole an excellent side dish or the main course. Besides, it is not only delicious but healthy and quite filling. 

The basic framework for this Tuna casserole is canned products combined with pasta and topped with cheese. But the most significant thing is the ability to tweak the recipe to your desired taste. 

So you can make it with fresh tuna or salmon. But for the extra flavor, you can even go as far as using tuna steak

All the other ingredients are simple and easily found in your pantry, making this Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole recipe perfect when you’re on a budget. 

Ingredients:

(6 servings)

  • 2 cans (6 oz each) of solid light tuna
  • 3/4 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion   
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium) 
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Water (drained and flaked)   
  • 1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper 

Instructions

If you love to fish, you’ll love this Barefoot Contessa Tuna noodle casserole. Although it is one of those foods that seems as if it could be straightforward to make, it is not that easy to pull off

However, we’ve tried this recipe and have tweaked and simplified it, so the instructions are easy for you to follow. We also have some tips to share to help you make your tuna casserole unforgettable.  

You must turn the casserole 900 halfway during baking so it is baked evenly. The secret is also to swap cream sauce with homemade mushroom soup, which makes an incredible difference to the taste of this casserole. 

And finally, don’t forget fresh herbs and lemon juice to attain a livelier taste. 

Now let’s get cooking.

Step 1: 

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Then prepare your pasta according to the instructions on the package. 

However, it’s essential to cook it 2 minutes less than specified in the directions. Once cooked, drain pasta and set aside. 

Step 2: 

Prepare the topping: mix panko, Parmesan, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl. 

Step 3: 

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium pot and add finely diced onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 8 minutes until the onion gets soft. 

Step 4: 

Coat the onion in flour and whisk well. Then pour the milk and broth softly while whisking. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring continuously.

Stir the sauce frequently as it simmers until it thickens. It should take about 8-10 minutes.

Step 5: 

Toss your cooked pasta with canned tuna and peas—season with salt and pepper, some other seasonings, or fresh herbs like fresh dill or rosemary.

Step 6: 

Fill a greased 9×13 baking dish with the pasta and tuna mixture. Add panko mixture on top and ensure the dish is completely covered. 

Step 7: 

Place the casserole dish in an oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the sauce bubbles and the crust is golden brown. 

Once baked, remove your tuna casserole from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Ingredient Substitution

Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole is a very versatile dish, as we’ve told before. This allows you to tweak the recipe to suit your palate or elevate the flavors of this classic dish.

1. Shell Pasta

Elbow macaroni is what makes a perfect basic for mac and cheese and all types of casseroles, including tuna casserole. But you can as well choose the pasta you like. Shell pasta or conchiglie is an excellent choice. 

It is lighter and goes in a variety of sizes. Besides, it has a perfect shape to hold the creamy sauce used in this recipe. Although it takes longer to cook, you still need to undercook it for 2 minutes as the elbow macaroni.

2. Cracker Crumbs 

Panko is nothing more than bread crumbs that are a little different from the traditional ones because of their airy texture. They absorb less moisture and grease to retain the crispiness. 

But if you don’t have exactly that on hand, crush up some crackers or potato chips. Any kind is worth a try. If you go for this substitute, your tuna casserole won’t be less tasty or crunchy.

3. Heavy Cream

Heavy cream or sour cream will back you up if you’re not a fan of milk. It is a perfect substitute for the sauce in this tuna casserole recipe, but it needs to be diluted slightly because of the fat content. 

Use a half cup of heavy cream and a half cup of water to replace one cup of milk for a luxurious creamy sauce.

What to Serve with Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole

Although Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole is an excellent main, pairing it with equally great sides will make for a perfect comfort dinner or lunch.

Steamed Veggies

Plain, steamed veggies main not sound too appealing, but it is, in fact, an excellent side for tuna casserole. It would be best if you usually had something lighter for something this filling, so steamed broccoli or green beans is a great idea.

Veggies will balance the heavy dish like tuna casserole and provide a nice crunchy contrast to this creamy dish.

Mac and Cheese

For several reasons, classic mac and cheese is a great side dish for this tuna casserole. 

It adds some saltiness to your meal. It is full of carbs which balances the protein in your casserole. 

Plus, mac and cheese don’t require much of your time. Haven’t you made up your mind already? Your meal will burst with flavors if you combine these two.

How to Reheat Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole

Reheating leftover tuna casserole usually takes about 40 minutes in an oven, 20 minutes in the air fryers, and about 3-5 minutes in a microwave. However, for it to taste good, you must do it correctly.

Reheat Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole in the Microwave

When reheating tuna casserole in a microwave, it’s best to divide it into servings and reheat each serving separately. Please put it in a microwave-safe dish and put a lid on a bowl—microwave on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.

Reheat Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole in an Oven 

Preheat an oven to 350°F and cover the dish with tin foil tightly until the last 5-10 minutes of heating, so it doesn’t lose moisture.

Reheat Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole in the Air Fryer

Preheat an air fryer to 350°F and put the tuna casserole into a bowl that you could place in an air fryer basket. Cover with aluminum foil and reheat for 15-20 minutes.

How to Store Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole

Luckily this tuna casserole stores incredibly well. However, before storing tuna casserole, you must ensure it is completely cooled. You can also divide it into portions, making it easier to store and reheat.

Store Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole in the Fridge

Store your homemade tuna casserole properly could last about 3-4 days in the fridge. Wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil and keep it in glass containers.

Store Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole in the Freezer

Storing tuna casserole in the freezer requires you to wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil. Then place it in the freezer bag. Tuna casserole stored like this will last for about 3 months.

barefoot contessa tuna casserole

Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole Recipe

Barefoot Contessa Tuna Casserole combines tender pasta, savory tuna, and creamy sauce. It is an irresistible combo that is a filling and comforting food for any occasion. We made this recipe simple so you can prepare this tuna casserole without effort.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Resting Time 5 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 344 kcal
Equipment
  • Small pot
  • baking dish
  • bowl
Ingredients
  
  • 2 cans (6 oz. each) of solid light tuna
  • 3/4 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Water (drained and flaked)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
Instructions
 
  • Preheat an oven to 425𐩑F. Then prepare your pasta according to the instructions on the package. 
    However, it's essential to cook it 2 minutes less than specified in the directions. Once cooked, drain pasta and set aside. 
  • Prepare the topping: mix panko, Parmesan, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl. 
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium pot and add finely diced onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 8 minutes until the onion gets soft. 
  • Coat the onion in flour and whisk well. Then pour the milk and broth softly while whisking. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring continuously.
    Stir the sauce frequently as it simmers until it thickens. It should take about 8-10 minutes.
  • Toss your cooked pasta with canned tuna and peas—season with salt and pepper, some other seasonings, or fresh herbs like fresh dill or rosemary.
  • Fill a greased 9x13 baking dish with the pasta and tuna mixture. Add panko mixture on top and ensure the dish is completely covered. 
  • Place the casserole dish in an oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the sauce bubbles and the crust is golden brown. 
    Once baked, remove your tuna casserole from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
Nutrition
Calories: 344kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 20gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5.7gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 778mgPotassium: 294mgFiber: 2.8gSugar: 1.8g

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