25 January 2007

Tuna Goes Casserole

In an effort to keep my new year resolution of bring more lunches to work than I buy, I've begun looking at recipes with an eye towards quantity as well as quality. Hence casseroles have popped onto my cooking radar, and more specifically Tuna Noodle Casserole, which I made for the first time this week.

Let me say that I don't do casseroles—or never did 'til now. The baking that I do is associated with cookies, cakes, and pies. But there's a first time for everything; and for my introduction to tuna casserole, I used a recipe from Gourmet.

I followed the directions fairly closely in preparation, although I did mix my mushrooms, using crimini and white button, and substituted Marsala wine for Sherry because I didn't have the later. Furthermore I lacked white bread, so my breadcrumbs came from wheat bread that in my disregard of detail I cubed instead of truly crumbed. I also tossed in a palm full of dried herbs in the sauce and seasoned it with white pepper, but neither of those additions seem to affect the end taste of the dish which was unfailingly mild and creamy.

Yet when all was baked and done, I had enough casserole for lunch, dinner, and the freezer.




TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE

1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (4 cups)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup Sherry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (6-oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained
6 oz dried curly egg noodles (preferably Pennsylvania Dutch style; about 3 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
4 oz coarsely grated Cheddar (1 cup)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

Cook onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with a pinch of salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to moderately high and add mushrooms, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to sauté mushrooms, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Sherry and boil, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Remove from heat.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook noodles in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles in a colander and return to pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly.

Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss again, then sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Gourmet, May 2004

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Julie said...

That looks wonderful! I was just thinking of making tuna noodle casserole today. It's cold, cold, cold here and a tuna noodle casserole seems like just the thing.

I like dinners that make enough leftovers for future meals and I like leftovers for lunch more than making a sandwich. Faster and easier.

1/26/2007 6:24 AM  
Blogger Blue Plate said...

I feel the same way. I make sandwiches when I don't have leftover to bring for lunch; they're a last resort short of buying lunch.

1/26/2007 11:46 PM  

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