Raise your hand if you loveeeee mac and cheese.
As a kid, my Dad would always make me mac and cheese made with sharp or white cheddar, LOTS and lots of pepper. If I was lucky, he’d would add peas (because I loved them more than any other veggie in the world).
Now that I’m into full on #adulting into my late 20’s, I LOVE when my mac and cheese is packed with anything just a little bit unique: truffle mac and cheese, mac and cheese with a Ritz cracker topping, mac and cheese with brussels, butternut squash mac and cheese, or even a classic broccoli cheddar mac and cheese. Can mac and cheese be its own food group yet?
I thought I’d bring you another unique twist on mac and cheese that I’m absolutely in love with: SOUTHWEST TUNA MAC AND CHEESE with spicy flavors and unique umami flavor.
Trust me, I know that it sounds a little crazy, but I promise you it’s one of the BEST mac and cheese recipes you’ll ever make.
Let’s talk about what’s all involved:
Elbow noodles: You can use gluten free, whole grain or regular. I really love the chickpea pasta noodles because of the extra fiber but whole grain is wonderful too.
Sharp cheddar cheese: I like to use a block of cheddar because it melts much easier. I do not recommend using pre-shredded cheddar for this recipe, but rather shred or cube it yourself.
Genova Yellowfin Tuna: I AM IN LOVE with the tuna in this recipe. It adds an interesting savory umami flavor that I can’t get enough of, not to mention tons of protein. If you haven’t had Genova tuna before, you need to try it. Their tuna is sourced from fisheries that are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, the world’s leading certification standard for sustainable, wild-caught seafood.
Taco seasoning: I decided to use a packet of organic taco seasoning to season the mac and cheese because that’s what I had in my cupboard, however I have a DIY version of taco seasoning is in the recipe notes for you!
Black beans: These beans are another reason I love this recipe. The fiber and protein in the beans help to keep you full and add a southwest flair to the recipe.
Cashew milk: Obviously you can use regular milk (although I wouldn’t use skim). I chose to use cashew milk because it’s incredibly creamy and adds amazing flavor to the mac and cheese. Feel free to use unsweetened cashew milk from the carton or homemade cashew milk. You can also use unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk.
I know you are going to love this filling comfort food mac and cheese. It’s wonderful on a cozy evening and great for reheating too. I recommend topping it with hot sauce and cilantro! ENJOY!
If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe below letting me know how you like it. You can also upload a photo and tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram! xo.
Stove Top Southwest Tuna Mac and Cheese
- 1 ½ cups elbow noodles (whole grain or gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (or sub regular flour or GF all purpose flour)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 cups unsweetened cashew milk (from the carton or homemade if you prefer)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese)
- 1 (1.1 ounce) packet taco seasoning (preferably organic)
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (5 ounce) can Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil, drained
- 2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and reserved for the topping (or about ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese)
- To garnish:
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce, if desired
First boil the noodles until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and set aside.
While the noodles are boiling, make a slurry: In a large oven safe skillet or pot add butter and garlic. Once butter is melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds until a paste forms.
Slowly add in cashew milk, whisking away any lumps.
Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes stirring every so often, until the sauce thickens up similar to a gravy
Next add in 6 oz cheese and 1 packet of taco seasoning and stir until completely melted.
Finally fold in cooked noodles, black beans and drained Genova Yellowfin tuna and mix until well combined.
Top with 2 ounces of shredded cheddar. At this point you can either serve the mac and cheese and just fold in the extra cheddar you just added, or remove from heat and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden. Serves 6. Top with cilantro and hot sauce if desired!
To make your own taco seasoning, mix together the following and add the mac and cheese: 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon paprika ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt
This post is in partnership with Genova Seafood. All recipes, text and images are my own. Thanks for supporting AK and the brands that help make this site possible!