2010 tuna casserole
The leaves are falling, it’s dark by 6 p.m. and everyone has practices, lessons and classes to get to. I don’t have a crock pot but I do love a good casserole for evenings when you want something hot and easy to make ahead, with appeal for all ages.
This tuna casserole recipe is from a well spattered and stained page from the October 1997 edition of “Eating Well” magazine and it never fails to disappoint. I’ve added a bit more cheese than called for but it’s still pretty light as far casseroles with a creamy base go (no actual cream involved here, just milk). It has all the comfy, cozy flavours we dig, but has a few more layers of sophistication to bring it into the 21st Century. Now if you still want to crush some potato chips on the top, go ahead. I won’t tell.
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes
- 170 grams or 6 ounces (1/2 the standard 340 gram package) dried medium or broad egg noodles
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered (I use a Walla Walla onion)
- 1 stalk celery, quartered
- 1 medium size green, yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white unbleached or all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise such as Hellmanns
- 1 - 170 grams or 6 ounce can of solid Albacore tuna, drained and flaked ( I use local, North Pacific sustainably caught tuna. A list of sources for this tuna can be found on the Canadian Albacore Tuna website.)
- 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese, seperated
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- lemon juice, to taste (I use 1/2 a lemon)
- salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spread pine nuts in a shallow pan and bake for 5 to 7 minutes keeping your eye on them until lightly browned; set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
Lightly oil a 10 - 12 cup casserole dish or coat it with nonstick spray.
Soak sun-dried tomatoes in hot water in a small bowl until softened, about 20 minutes.
Drain and set aside. (if using oil packed sun-dried tomatoes you can skip this step.)
Cook noodles in boiling salted water until al dente, about 6 minutes.
Drain in colander, refresh under cold running water and set aside.
While the noodles are boiling pulse reserved tomatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add milk and bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened, about 4 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir in mayonnaise, tuna, 1/2 cup cheese and basil.
Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Gently mix reserved noodles into tuna mixture and spoon into prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle with reserved pine nuts and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
Bake casserole for 20 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling.
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 8. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.