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Thursday, 2 April 2020

Quick & Easy Meals: Tuna Mornay

With so many people looking for economical meals that can be made from pantry staples at the moment, I thought today would be a good day to share one of my go to meals for the family: Tuna Mornay. Now, if you're Australian, you're probably pretty familiar with tuna mornay. It's one of those meals that you rarely see on a menu, but every family has their own recipe.

Tuna mornay was a regular meal growing up and it is a regular meal for my family too. My kids love it and would happily eat it several times a week - which they usually end up doing as there are always left overs. If you're not Australian, there's a good chance that you have no idea what tuna mornay is. I just presumed it was a recipe known around the world until I moved to the US and discovered that my American friends had no idea what it was. I then figured it must be a commonwealth thing, but unlike most Australian foods that are actually really British, it turns out that my British friends aren't familiar with tuna mornay either. Nor are my German, Italian and Russian friends. Only my Australian friends seem to be familiar with it, and they all claim that their family's recipe is the best. But they're lying, because my Mum's recipe is the best!

You're in luck, because today I'm sharing my Mum's tuna mornay recipe with you. It's a recipe that I've thought about sharing here many times over the years, but never have for two reasons. First of all, it's one of those recipes that I've been making for so long that I actually don't have a recipe. The ingredients always stay the same, but I just wing it when it comes to the amounts. My Mum has always done the same, so when she gave me the recipe years ago, it was just a list of ingredients. Sharing my recipe here meant paying attention to the amounts I use, and I never think of that until after I've made it! The other reason I've never shared my tuna mornay recipe is that as delicious as it tastes, it's not a particularly photogenic food! You'll see! It's definitely one of those "tastes much better than it looks" meals!


Here's what you'll need:
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
2 9oz tins chunk tuna in water (in brine is better if you can find it)
1 tin corn (drained) or 1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar works best but I used a Mexican blend here)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups pasta (I like penne or spriali)



Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. This is for the pasta which you will cook according to the packet instructions while making the mornay.

Finely chop the onion.


Melt the butter in a large pot on high and add the onion. Stir regularly. You just want to soften the onion, not brown it. This should only take a few minutes.


Once the onion has softened, turn off the heat and add the flour.


Use a whisk to combine the flour with the onion and butter.


Add the milk and whisk until smooth. You may find that you need to add a little more milk.


Turn the heat back on to medium and stir in the cheese and corn. Mix thoroughly.


Add the tinned tuna and mix through. Leave to heat for about 3 - 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Add the lemon juice and stir through.

Turn off the heat and add the cooked pasta.


There are two choices now. You can serve up the tuna mornay as is or you can bake it in the oven a little longer. My kids prefer to eat it as is, so I usually skip the baking step and just serve it up.

If you prefer to bake your tuna mornay, pour it into a rectangular casserole dish.


Top with breadcrumbs and more cheese. You can use your imagination here and add any topping that you like. While I prefer breadcrumbs, I know some families that add cornflakes or potato chips to the top. You can basically add anything that will give the mornay bake a crunchy topping.


Place in a 350F oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted on top.


Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving up.


Wasn't that a quick and easy meal? Tuna mornay is one of my favorite go to meals for the whole family as it comes together so quickly (within 15 minutes if you choose not to bake it), it's a great way to incorporate more fish into your diet, it's cheap to make, it's super kid friendly, and it tastes delicious. Plus, all the ingredients are pantry/fridge staples, so it's a great meal to make when you don't want to go out shopping.

Tips:
Back home in Australia I always used tuna in brine, however I haven't been able to find this in the US. If you can find tuna in brine, I recommend using that over tuna in water as it adds more flavor. Avoid using tuna in oil as it makes the dish too oily.

I always use chunk tuna as it's easy to break it up, but if you have solid tinned tuna on hand that works just as well. You'll just need to spend a little time breaking it up with a fork. Solid tuna generally has less liquid in the tin, so if you use this I'd add a little extra milk to make the sauce thinner before adding the tuna.

Creamed corn is a great substitute for whole corn. It blends through the mornay nicely and is actually my prefered corn for this dish. My kids prefer whole corn though, so I use that.

You can add other veggies if you like too. Peas and diced carrots go well with tuna mornay.

Cheddar is the best cheese for tuna mornay, but you can use any grated cheese that you have on hand. We typically have a Mexican blend in the fridge so I usually use that.

You can use any type of pasta that you have on hand for this dish, but I find that spirali and penne hold the sauce best. Farfalle worked well too. You could even use lasagne sheets and make it a tuna mornay lasagne bake. I always choose a whole grain or lentil pasta for extra fiber.

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