Tortellini Tuna Casserole

This tortellini tuna casserole for two is a twist on a classic tuna casserole. The creamy from-scratch sauce is made with fresh mushrooms, white wine, and garlic and is tossed with cheese tortellini and peas. Plus, there’s no need to boil the pasta – it cooks right in the sauce while in the oven.

Overhead photo of two bowls of tortellini tuna casserole

When I mentioned to Bill that I wanted to make an updated tuna casserole, an old favorite of mine, he responded, “I think I’ll skip that one”. Turns out it was a go-to “Fish Friday” dish in his home growing up and one he’d long grown tired of. He’d had his fill, thank you very much.

His reaction left me wondering how our relationship would fare moving forward since I’m totally on team tuna noodle casserole. What was apparently a ho-hum dinner in his opinion, was, for me, comfort-food heaven. Growing up, I loved a bubbling hot casserole dish full of tender noodles coated in a cream of something soup. I still do.

And so, as is my way, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I can handle our differing views on other topics, but his lukewarm feeling about tuna casserole was too much. So, in order to save our relationship, I needed to create a new and improved version of the contentious dish. One that captures the cozy nostalgic feeling of the classic, but with a few upgraded twists with the power to bring people together instead of tearing them apart.

Tortellini Tuna Casserole

Unlike the giant casseroles of my childhood, this tuna casserole is small-scale and serves two, with some leftover for lunch the next day.

  • Instead of opening a can of cream of mushroom soup, we’re making the sauce from scratch. I’m not opposed to that gelatinous hallmark of the classic dish, but making our own sauce gives us more control over the flavor, which is decidedly fresher and less salty than the soup version.
  • The sauce starts with finely chopped mushrooms, onions, and garlic that cook together until most of their moisture has been cooked out. I like to add some white wine towards the end of their cook time which adds flavor and makes it easy to scrape up all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. If you don’t have any wine on hand you can use chicken stock or even some water for this step.
  • Once the veggies are cooked add some butter and flour. They will help thicken the sauce after you’ve added the milk and cream. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.
  • For the tuna, I like to use white albacore tuna packed in water. Drain it and stir it into the sauce breaking up any big chunks with the spatula. Add a cup of frozen peas, too.
  • Instead of egg noodles, I like to use packaged cheese tortellini. I use the refrigerated kind and haven’t tested frozen ones in this recipe. You don’t have to boil the pasta first, just stir it right into the sauce and it will cook in the oven. At this point, transfer the pasta and sauce to a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
  • For the topping, combine dried breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and some olive oil. Sprinkle it over the top of the pasta and sauce and pop the baking dish in the oven. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes at 375°F for about 30 minutes.
  • The tuna casserole will be bubbly hot when you take it out of the oven so let it stand for a few minutes before serving. I like to add a lightly dressed green salad on the side to balance out the richness of the casserole.

This tortellini tuna casserole may not be the answer to world peace, but it did bring both of us to the table and Bill, in his diplomatic way, gave it a chance. It might have been the from-scratch sauce or maybe it was the cheese tortellini – whatever it was, Bill cleaned his plate while I reveled in luring him to my side of the debate. It was, as they say, a happy ending.

Happy casserole-making,

Photo of a tortellini tuna casserole

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Print

Tortellini Tuna Casserole

photo of a bowl of tortellini tuna casserole

This tortellini tuna casserole is my updated version of the one I loved growing up. The creamy from-scratch sauce is made with fresh mushrooms, garlic, white wine, and peas. Plus, the tortellini cooks right in the sauce – no need to boil it ahead of time.

  • Author: April @ Girl Gone Gourmet
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 3 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (4-oz) can white albacore tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups cheese tortellini

For the Topping

  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a 10-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic and stir to coat them in the oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir. Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or until they’ve released their moisture.
  3. Add the wine to the pan and, as it simmers, scrape up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the butter to the pan and stir until it’s melted. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and butter and stir.
  4. Add the milk and cream to the pan. Stir and bring it to a low simmer and adjust the heat to keep it from boiling. Simmer the sauce for five minutes or so or until it starts to thicken (it should lightly coat the back of a spoon). Add the black pepper, tuna, and peas and stir to combine. Add the tortellini and stir to coat it in the sauce. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a 1 1/12-quart baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, olive oil, salt and half of the grated Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the topping over the top of the pasta and sauce in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top of the breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Let the casserole stand for a few minutes before serving.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/3 of recipe
  • Calories: 637
  • Sugar: 11.2g
  • Fat: 28g
  • Carbohydrates: 65.8g
  • Fiber: 5.6g
  • Protein: 32.1g

Keywords: tuna noodle casserole, tuna casserole, tuna casserole without soup

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2 Comments

  1. What do you recommend me doing if my tortellini is frozen? Should I let it defrost first or boil it beforehand?

    1. I haven’t tried it with frozen, but I think if you thaw it or boil it for half the recommended time it should be okay. Let me know how it goes –

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