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Homemade Tuna Helper [Recipe from Scratch]

Homemade Tuna Helper
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Betty Crocker’s Helper boxes are one of my first self-made meals from back when I still religiously followed the instructions. I haven’t had any for years now, so I decided to make them from scratch! I can’t say it’s a copycat, as this one is a much better, homemade version of the Tuna Helper recipe.

I still used a similar seasoning mix, so if you have a box in the back of your pantry – feel free to use it! However, I don’t particularly like heating up canned tuna, as the instructions on the packaging of Tuna Helper say, so I changed up a few things. This is a recipe for rich, creamy, piquant tuna pasta with a few sweet, garlicky notes for the perfect balance.

What Makes This Tuna Helper Recipe Special?

With just a few little alterations, a classic premade recipe can go from ‘meh’ to ‘wow’ extra quickly! I swapped up water for vegetable broth and milk for heavy cream — this way, I got a richer, fuller relish. Also, I didn’t cook tuna — I added it straight from the can right before serving – it fit just perfectly, making a balance between hot pasta and cold fish.

Also, I’ll reveal to you my secret ingredient – homemade pesto! Instead of enriching pasta with the usual: carrots, peas, and corn, I used my favorite Italian ingredients: basil pesto, cherry tomato, and mozzarella. A slight acidic flavor of lemon in pesto sits just right with other ingredients and gives the whole dish a significant note of freshness!

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How to Make Homemade Tuna Helper?

This is a super easy dish to make even from scratch, but if you have a Tuna Helper box, you can use the ingredients, but change the cooking steps. Here are the ingredients to make this delish and healthy meal!

  • Pasta – I used elbow pasta to match the Tuna Helper one (you can use that, too).
  • Vegetable broth – I made it by dissolving vegetable cube bouillon in water.
  • Heavy cream – It is responsible for a creamy, rich, and glossy sauce.
  • Tuna – As a protein source, I used canned tuna in water.
  • Pesto – I made pesto from fresh ingredients by blending basil (sweet variety), walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, grated parmesan, sea salt, and pepper. Instead, you can use store-bought, as well.
  • Spice mix – You can use a bagged one from the Tuna Helper box if you have one. I made a similar mix by combining garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, and thyme
  • Mozzarella – Fresh relish and a slight tang of milky mozzarella fits perfectly into this Italian mood. I used mini mozzarella balls.
  • Cherry tomato – I love to use sweet tomatoes to balance all the flavors at the end. Sugar drop cherry tomato variety is my favorite.

Now, let’s make this creamy, dreamy, and spicy pasta!

Step 1: Cooking the Pasta

Homemade Tuna Helper Cooking the Pasta 1

Start by dissolving vegetable cube bouillon in hot water and add a tablespoon of cornstarch to it, as well. Then, in a large pan, toast the spice mix: garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, and thyme (or Tuna Helper spice mix bag) over a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Now, pour the broth into the pan along with some water, and bring it to the boil.

Add the dry elbow pasta and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer it lightly for about 7-10 minutes and stir it occasionally. Pour in heavy cream and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until you’re satisfied with the sauce consistency and pasta density.

Remove from the stove, and move to the next step.

Step 2: Making the Pesto

Making the Pesto

In the meantime, combine walnuts, basil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, fresh garlic cloves, sea salt, and ground pepper. Pulsate the blender until the texture is creamy and slightly grainy. About 1 or 2 minutes of blending is enough.

If you’re using store-bought pesto – skip this step.

Step 3: Assembling the Dish

tuna helper serving idea

Combine the pesto and canned tuna with the pasta. Arrange it onto the plates and top it with mini mozzarella and sweet cherry tomatoes. Serve with a glass of wine or sparkling lemon water for a fancy dinner. And enjoy!

How to Store This Dish?

If you’re a pasta lover, you’ll probably have no leftovers to work with, but you can store them in the fridge for a day. Make sure to use airtight containers to keep the aroma in, as it’s pretty strong due to garlic and basil. Don’t heat it more than one time!

Advice plus: Don’t mix the tuna into the whole batch if you’re planning on storing it – do it before serving!

Homemade Tuna Helper Recipe from Scratch

Homemade Tuna Helper Recipe from Scratch

Author: Laura Bais
Try this homemade heavenly-tasty tuna pasta recipe inspired by Tuna Helper boxed pasta we all adored as kids!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 5 servings
Calories 795 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Pesto

  • 2 ½ oz walnuts (70 g)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (20 g)
  • 1 lemon Freshly squeezed.
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (50 ml)
  • 1 oz grated parmesan (30 g)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Pasta

  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon Dissolve it in 17 oz (500 ml) of water.
  • 1 tbsp starch corn
  • 10 oz water (300 ml)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (240 ml)
  • 8 oz pasta (227 g) That's one packaging. Use dry elbow pasta.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 can tuna (230 g) Use tuna in water.

Topping

  • 10 oz cherry tomatoes (283 g)
  • 8 oz mozzarella (226 g) That's one packaging. Use mini mozzarella balls.

Instructions
 

Pasta

  • Dissolve vegetable cube bouillon in hot water and add a tablespoon of cornstarch to it, as well.
  • In a large pan toast the spice mix: garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, and thyme (or Tuna Helper spice mix bag) over a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Pour the broth into the pan along with some water, and bring it to the boil.
  • Add the dry elbow pasta and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer it lightly for about 7-10 minutes and stir it occasionally.
  • Pour in heavy cream and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until you’re satisfied with the sauce consistency and pasta density.
  • Remove from the stove.

Pesto

  • Combine walnuts, basil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, fresh garlic cloves, sea salt, and ground pepper.
  • Pulsate the blender until the texture is creamy and slightly grainy. About 1 or 2 minutes of blending is enough.

Putting Everything Together

  • Combine the pesto and canned tuna with the pasta.
  • Arrange it onto the plates and top it with mini mozzarella and sweet cherry tomatoes.
  • Serve with a glass of wine or sparkling lemon water for a fancy dinner. And enjoy!

Notes

You can store leftover pasta in the fridge for a day. Make sure to use airtight containers to keep the aroma in, as it’s pretty strong due to garlic and basil. Don’t heat it more than one time!
Advice plus: Don’t mix the tuna into the whole batch if you’re planning on storing it – do it before serving!

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 795kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 35gFat: 53gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0.002gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 1026mgPotassium: 570mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1752IUVitamin C: 27mgCalcium: 377mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Homemade Tuna Helper, Pesto Pasta, Tuna Helper, Tuna Pasta, Tuna Pesto Pasta
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
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