Picture me sneaking into the kitchen under the guise of cleaning up the dinner mess, to loom suspiciously over the now empty saucepan and scrape the last little bits of the sauce onto a teaspoon and into my mouth. Sadly some meals are just too tasty to wash down the drain, even if it’s only a measly teaspoons worth. Tuna Mornay (Aussie style Tuna Casserole) has always been pot-scrapingly good in my books. Unfortunately it didn’t fit into our healthier lifestyle so I hadn’t cooked up a batch in years. Back in the early years of married life I made Tuna Mornay an awful lot and it was always heavy on the cheese, butter and pasta and had zero veggies on the side.
Out of desperation this week (our fridge has died yet again and we’re awaiting a replacement part) I needed something to make for dinner that didn’t involve any refrigerated meat. The fridge has been at 12 degrees celsius for a few weeks now which has been just fine for vegetables but too risky for dairy or meat products. We keep our cheddar cheese in the freezer which is fortunately still working (for now, it’s a side by side fridge-freezer so I have no faith in the other half hanging in there for ever).
In this recipe I used UHT Dairy Free Cream but you can use milk or single cream. Leave the cheese out if you’d like (I separated out a portion for Master 6 and I before adding the cheese) but the cheesy version is pretty awesome if you can justify the extra fat/calories/dairy.
This meal did not photograph all that pretty. It totally makes up for its ugly in creamy deliciousness!
The veggies I used are a nice combo of a bit of bite, colour and flavour but you could easily switch them out with ingredients you have on hand (eg. frozen peas instead of corn).
In a saucepan, heat the oil or butter. Throw in the chopped onion, red pepper, celery, carrot and crushed garlic (I also threw in a little extra parsley but I probably wouldn’t bother next time around, I’ll just stick with the parsley added later on in the recipe)
Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables have begun to soften (about 10 minutes)
* At this point if you’re in the same boat as me you might need to have a word with your furry friend about the pot containing vegetables NOT the tuna he caught a wiff of from the other end of the flat
Add the flour and stir for a minute
Remove from heat and stir in the milk or cream. Then place your saucepan back on the heat and bring to a boil, simmering gently until the sauce has thickened
Stir in the canned or frozen corn kernels, tuna (including the brine), chopped parsley, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of paprika, a pinch of nutmeg and the Tablespoon of whole grain mustard (this is one of the rare occasions when less is definitely more…don’t add extra mustard! It will drown out the other flavours)
Heat until all the ingredients are heated through and you’re happy with how thick the sauce is (take particular care if using frozen veggies that they cook through). If using cheese then drop that in and stir until it’s deliciously melty
Taste test your sauce (don’t get carried away, I could totally take the whole darn lot into a dark corner and go nuts with a dessert spoon) and add salt and pepper to taste
Once you’re happy with the flavour you’re done!
This first pic is minus the cheese (I had mine with a side salad)
The rest of the family had theirs with wholemeal spaghetti. Try yours stirred through any kind of pasta you’re in the mood for or with rice. You could also make it into a pasta bake in a casserole dish with macaroni or penne, a sprinkle of bread crumbs, extra cheese and bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. I could even picture this as a toasted/grilled sandwich filling (think tuna melt) or simply on a piece of buttered toast (yum!)