Tuna Noodle Casserole

So, in college we made something lovingly called Tuna Blob. It had exactly 2 ingredients – the cheapest boxed mac and cheese mix we could find and the cheapest can of tuna we could find.

Yeah, gross.

This Tuna Noodle Casserole more than makes up for my past Tuna Blob transgressions.

A nice assortment of veggies, some lovely, white albacore tuna, noodles and a light sauce make this one tasty casserole.

Bonus — it makes a lot and the leftovers are better than the firsts.

Here’s what you need:

Wide Egg Noodles, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Celery, Mushrooms, Frozen Peas, Tuna, Butter, Flour, Milk, White Wine, Cheddar Cheese, Hot Sauce, Olive Oil (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

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Could someone please tell me when tuna cans got so small? I actually ended up adding a 4th can to the recipe as my cans were only 5 ounces each. Hello? Tuna People? That’s not even a cup per can. Geez.

Old Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole is often made with Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Celery Soup. Since I wanted this to be a little lighter and a little healthier, I opted to make my own cream sauce and add fresh mushrooms and fresh celery. You can, of course, customize this to add whatever veggies are your favorites. I thought about adding some diced carrots but was getting worried that it wouldn’t all fit in my baking dish. Broccoli might be fun too.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Start by chopping or dicing a large onion into small pieces.

While you’re in a chopping mood, dice up 2 ribs of celery…

and one big red bell pepper.

Grab a big skillet or pan, add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and saute the vegetables until they are tender but not browned. This takes about 5 minutes over medium high heat.

While the peppers, celery and onions cook, have a chat with yourself about the cleanliness of your mushrooms and then slice them up. I’m using one 8 ounce container of fresh mushrooms.

When the onions look shiny and translucent, add the mushrooms to the pan and cook them until they are soft and have given off their liquid….about 5 more minutes.

I like the veggies to still have a bit of crunch when they go into the casserole. They will continue to cook in the oven so no need to completely cook the vegetables now.

Pour all the vegetables into a giant mixing bowl and let them hang out while you make the sauce and noodles.

Speaking of noodles, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add some salt and cook the noodles for only 5 minutes.

Remember, this cooks again in the oven so you actually want to undercook the noodles a bit to keep them from becoming mushy.

Drain the noodles and add them to the big bowl of veggies.

Add 3 or 4 cans of drained tuna and 1 1/2 cups of frozen peas to the noodle bowl.

Moving on to the sauce. Melt 1/2 stick of butter (4 Tablespoons) in the same pan you used for the vegetables.

Stir in 1/4 cup of flour to make a light roux or thickener for the sauce.

Cook and stir the roux for a few minutes until it becomes a thick paste. Keep it moving in the pan so that it doesn’t stick and burn. Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine and stir like crazy with a whisk to remove some of the lumps.

Add milk 1 cup at a time (2 1/2 cups total) and continue to whisk and stir until the sauce is lump free.

I find that alternating between the whisk and a wooden spoon works really well to remove the lumps. Also adding the liquid a cup at a time rather than pouring it all in at once makes the stirring more manageable.

Add a few dashes of hot sauce to your smooth lovely sauce.

I love Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. In spite of it’s name, it’s not actually all that hot and adds great flavor to sauces (and scrambled eggs) without burning your face off. You would never know that there was hot sauce in this dish by the heat but I think you would definitely miss the added flavor if you left it out.

Remember to gently heat your sauce until the flour and milk have had a chance to thicken. No need to boil it, just let it have a few minutes of stirring over medium heat and it should pull together nicely.

Pour the nice creamy sauce over the noodles.

Grate up 8 ounces of cheddar cheese and add half of the cheese to the noodles.

Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper and give all the ingredients a good stir to combine.

Pour the noodles into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish that has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Top with the remaining grated cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until the sauce is thick and bubbly and the cheese has melted. Little golden bits on the top are good too.

Old fashioned comfort food at it’s best. Quick and easy enough to make any night of the week plus leftovers for lunch or a night when you don’t have time to cook.

Tuna Blob never tasted so good.

Here’s the recipe.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

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4 Responses

  1. In my cooking class they taught us that if you add a cold liquid to the hot butter/flour mix you won’t get lumps. It worked for me in class. So maybe if your wine is warm that is why you get lumps… Just a thought…. I am excited to try the hot/cold thing at home..

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