Saturday, February 16, 2013

Frugal Foodie Friday - Tuna Casserole

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Tuna casserole was a dish that made a weekly appearance on my mother's table. It was never a favorite of mine and shortly after I was married it was laid to rest. It remained completely off my radar until the SNAP challenge set me to thinking about low cost family meals. The challenge also set me to thinking about ways the old classic could be improved and made more appealing. Around that time Grace Parisi featured a recipe for a tuna cazuela in Food and Wine magazine. While her casserole sounded delicious, the ingredients she to used make it were too expensive for those on a limited food budget. I decided to adapt the recipe, using less costly ingredients that would make it possible for more people to enjoy the casserole. This is an extremely easy dish to make and you can have it on the table in a bit more than 30 minutes. To avoid a pasty white sauce, I simmer it for about 10 minutes to make sure the flour cooks and the flavors have a chance to blend. The sauce will appear thin to you, but rest assured, the macaroni will absorb it most of it as it cooks. This makes a nice meatless meal, and with Lent upon us, I thought some of you might like to give this dish a try. Here is how it is made.

Tuna Casserole...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Grace Parisi and Food and Wine magazine

8 ounces elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons olive oil or butter, divided use
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
2 large roasted bell peppers, sliced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (6-ounce can)solid white tuna in oil, drained and flaked
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup coarsely grated bread crumbs, toasted

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cook elbow macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
2) While pasta cooks, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add milk and bring to a boil. Cook sauce over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in Jack cheese and smoked paprika.
3) Add elbow macaroni, peas, sliced peppers, Parmigiano cheese and tuna and season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a large baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.
4) Toss toasted bread crumbs with remaining remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle crumbs over casserole. Place casserole in oven and bake until bubbling, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve right away.
Yield: 4 to 5 servings.

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Ginny said...

I would love tuna casserole if I could ever find a recipe that is really good. This may be it!

Pondside said...

We ate Tuna or Salmon Casserole often when I was a girl. Fridays were always meatless, so I guess these dishes were easy fall-back options. I liked my mum's casseroles, which were always nice and moist and full of fresh bits of crunchy vegetables.

Foodycat said...

I have very bad memories of a friend's father's tuna casserole! There was tinned soup and crushed pineapple in it. This looks much nicer.

Big Dude said...

Wow Mary, this sure brings back memories. I can't remember the last time I ate tuna casserole but always enjoyed it in my younger days. I like the addition of peas and peppers to your version.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I love tuna and will certainly give this recipe a try. Have a good day Diane

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Mary, wow! I could do with one of those right now!
Duncan In Kuantan

Debbie said...

A good tuna casserole....this is wonderful! Have to pin it and save to make in the future!!!!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Something about the roasted bell peppers and smoked paprika make this especially appealing to me this morning. =) blessings ~ tanna

safire said...

This looks yummy! I need to pick up some tuna.

Pam said...

I loved tuna casserole when I was young. We always had either it or tuna patties on Fridays. This sounds like a much tastier version!

Kim G. said...

I just love tuna casserole, it reminds me a lot of my childhood! Love this version Mary!

Susan Lindquist said...

For me, tuna casserole is a 'comfort food'. I think most of us boomers had it once a week during the sixties and seventies ... my mother always made hers with Campbell's mushroom soup. I cringe now, when I think of the sodium levels, but boy, it tatsed great! Yours is def more healthy a version!

Kate said...

This brings back memories! I love your version, so much more healthy.

Lorraine said...

Good morning, Mary! This is one of my all time favorite comfort dishes. Just looking at it gives me a hankerin' for some :)

The Café Sucré Farine said...

This recipe brings back memories from my childhood too. I love it when a certain dish does that. Wish a had a plate of your casserole for my lunch today!

Barbara F. said...

Mary, I love tuna noodle casserole and this recipe rocks! I will try it. Need to get some ingredients. Yummy and I am always looking for new meatless recipes during Lent. xo

Juliana said...

Great one meal dish with tuna...
Enjoy your weekend Mary :)

Guru Uru said...

What a delicious meal my friend, simple but flavoursome :D

Choc Chip Uru

Rebecca Subbiah said...

i agree great low cost meal, have a great weekend

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