Course Entrees
Cuisine American
Difficulty Moderate
Pulse Type Beans

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Giant Shell Tuna Casserole

A crusty, cheesy topping, giant shells and half pulses make a healthier take on a homey classic.


For the cheese sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz milk, 2%
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper, ground
  • 3 oz cheddar cheese, white,grated (reserve half for later)
  • 3 oz mozzarella cheese

For the vegetables:

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 3 oz mushrooms, button (thinly sliced)
  • 2 oz onion, (finely chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced in ½ lengthwise (finely sliced)
  • 2 garlic, cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 oz white wine

For the Assembly:

  • 8 oz pasta, giant shell
  • 1 can tuna, canned in olive oil, drained
  • 4 oz cannellini beans
  • cheese, sauce from above
  • mushroom, mix from above
  • 2 tbsp parsley, Italian (shredded)
  • 1 tbsp basil, fresh (shredded)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • cheese, reserved from above
  • 1 cup Panko crumbs
  • ¼ cup olive oil, extra-virgin
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste


For the Cheese Sauce:

  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter until foaming. Whisk in the flour until smooth.
  • Add the milk in a steady stream while whisking to remove any lumps. Add the thyme sprigs and cook over medium heat until the sauce has simmered for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in ½ the cheese (reserving the other half for the baking step)
  • Set aside.

For the Vegetables:

  • In a sauté pan, heat the butter until foaming. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook over high heat until nicely brown.
  • Add the garlic and the celery and sauté a few more minutes until aromatic.
  • Add the white wine and reduce just until there is no visible liquid in the bottom of the pan. Reserve.

For the Assembly:

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the giant shells7-8 minutes or until al dente (still some resistance to the tooth). Pour through a colander and run some cold water over the shells to cool them. Allow to drain thoroughly.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the drained tuna, white beans, cheese sauce, mushroom mix and the herbs. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F
  • Butter a 9×13 casserole dish and smear the bottom with ¾ of the tomato sauce.
  • Fill each of the shells completely with the tuna filling and place on the tomato sauce.
  • Drizzle the casserole with ½ cup of water. Dot with remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Mix the Panko olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the cheese.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese and Panko are brown and crusty.