When I told my daughter I was going to make her a dish that would make her like tuna, she said to me, “There are two things I hate about what you’re going to make. Tuna and Casserole.” Poor casserole. Already got a bum rap and she didn’t even know what I was talking about.
To my utter delight, she actually loved the dish (as I knew she would) and ended up repeating several times. I generally don’t make tuna noodle anything, but since I am now on survival mode/use up everything in my pantry mode, I figured this would be perfect. And, apart from the tuna, it was chock full of other veggies sneaked into one recipe so it was a double whammy for mom!
As I’ve mentioned before, we never ate such classics when I was a kid. People actually thought our food choices were really weird. Nothing screams outsider like Colombian, Italian and Arabic food in the Bahamas, let me tell you. My mom had this really great volume of Time-Life cookbooks, and I might have spied this for the first time in one of those, and once in college I recreated it.
I actually really like it. I remember not being sure how the whole tuna/noodle/cheese/béchamel thing was going to work out, but you know what, it does. And now that I know my picky teen will gobble this up, I think it will be a repeat offender at my house from now on!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 celery rib, sliced
1 cup fresh shelled peas (if you can’t find fresh, frozen will do)
1 cup quartered cremini or button mushrooms
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
2 cups milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1.5 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 can tuna, drained and flaked
200 g egg noodles, cooked according to package directions, strained
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or torn up pieces of white bread, like mine above, if you don’t have breadcrumbs)
In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onions, celery and peas. Saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Raise the heat to high, and add the mushrooms and the salt. Saute until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 tbsp of butter, and mix until melted. Lower the heat to medium, and add the flour and mix well. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the milk, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened. Season with the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Take off heat and mix in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and mix well. Add in the tuna and the noodles and mix well.
Transfer to a baking dish.
Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar, and then top with breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350 F (180C) oven for about 20-25 minutes or until crumbs are golden and it is bubbling. Remove from oven, and let cool 10 minutes, serve.
From my kitchen to yours,