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.
One Year Ago Today: Panfried Catfish with Garlic and Lemon Butter
Two Years Ago Today: Giant Lemon Sugar Cookies
Three Years Ago Today: Shrove Tuesday Buns