Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

 

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!

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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:

Serves 6

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.

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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,

Carla

 

Alu Gobi – Cauliflower and Potato Curry

Caulifower and Potato Curry

 

20 years ago, I tried this dish for the very first time.  My college roommate, Salina, is from Kenya, but her parents are from Gujarat.  Apart from being one of the most incredible, beautiful and kindest persons I have met to date, she also opened up my mind to so many different things.  With her, I traveled to Kenya, and had one of the most life changing trips.  I entered not only Africa, but was received with open arms by her family, and they made me their protegé, and taught me so many things about Indian culture.  Back then, Salina used to cook for me.  I didn’t even know how to boil water.  But wow….she used to make these things that I had NEVER heard of.  But I loved them all.  I loved her little tiffin box full of spices.  I secretly coveted it.  I secretly wished I could be as talented as her in the kitchen.

But she did leave me with quite a few recipes.  Honestly, I don’t think I could have ever made them until now.  Thanks to the beauty of internet and the fact that I can now manoeuvre around a kitchen, I can figure out what “kala jeera” is (black cumin seed) and to figure out what “when the oil separates” means.  I think her recipes are beautiful.  It wasn’t from a book, she was cooking from her heart, and from her amazing mother’s heart.  ( I heart Bena- her mummy, my other mummy.)

So, today I decided to tackle this recipe, which was one of my favorites.  And I received the best compliment of all.  A friend of mine who has traveled extensively throughout India took one bite and said, “Mmmm, this takes me back to India!  Do you mind if I eat with my hands?”

And this of course, made me very, very happy.  Because my other mummy taught me how to eat with my hands too.

So, here is Salina’s wonderful Alu Gobi!

Serves 4

1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets

1 large onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 potatoes, chopped

1 cup peas

For the masala:

1/3-1/2 cup ghee or oil

1 tsp kala jeera (cumin seeds)

2 tbsp finely chopped ginger

2 green ( I used red) chillies, roughly chopped

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt, or to taste

2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Wash the cauliflower, potatoes and peas together.

Heat the ghee/oil, and lightly fry the cumin seeds.  Add the onions and fry to a light golden color.  Add the tomatoes, ginger, chillies, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, chilli powder and garam masala to the onions.  Cook on low heat until the oil separates.  (About 10-15 minutes).  Add the cauliflower, peas and potato with about 1/4 cup water, and stir the vegetables until well mixed with the masala.  Cover the pan and simmer on low heat.  When cooked, if there is any liquid in the pan, increase the heat and evaporate until the sauce is thick.  Sprinkle with the chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with chapati, puri or paratha.  (I made spiced puris in the picture above).

From my Indian mummy’s kitchen to yours,

Carla