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Tuna Pesto Bake

Preheat oven to 375.

Toast nuts in a dry skillet over moderate heat. Stirring constantly for approximately 3 minutes, until lightly brown. Place on a plate to cool.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter in the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned. Increase heat to moderate. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk about cup at a time until smooth. Bring to a boil and thicken. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes more stirring often. Remove from heat.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salt water just until tender. Drain pasta well. Stir in the white sauce; add tuna, cream, basil, pepper, toasted walnuts and cup Parmesan cheese. Scrape this all into a baking casserole dish (2-quart size). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes at 375, until golden brown on top. Let cool for a few minutes to thicken before serving.

You may lighten this by using all skim milk and low fat cheese if you feel you need to. It is still very good just not as rich.     

This dish is rich and tasty; it can be prepared several hours ahead and baked shortly before serving. The basil, Parmesan cheese and garlic are incorporated into the creamy white sauce and tossed with the tuna and pasta.  

Makes approximately 6 servings

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