I have NEVER liked traditional Tuna Noodle Casserole. Ever. You have to be so careful with tuna fish…can we agree on that? Mixing it with egg noddles that inevitably will get mushy (or maybe it’s just MINE that always do) and a “cream of” soup that is super salty and full of MSG as well as other things and, well, even toasty bread crumbs on top cannot save it in my opinion. My husband has the strange ability to forget meals I make that are just complete disasters…bless his heart, and he has completely forgotten the two other times I have attmpted to follow a classic recipe to a T and make one of his childhood favorites, and insists that I have only made it once when we were first married seven and a half years ago. He DOES however, remember it was a flop. So, this evening when he again requested it and I had everything to make IT and not much else, I decided I was going to give it ONE more try, but I was going to do it MY way….
First, I decided that I wanted it to have a mildly creamy and cheesy base, reminiscent of a tuna melt…who doesn’t love THOSE! Then I decided that I needed a more forgiving pasta than egg noodles. Elbows came to mind but hubby said he wanted something more like noodles. Enter tiny little bow tie pastas someone had recently given us. PERFECT! SO I set to work, inspired by my favorite homemade Mac and Cheese recipe. Here it is!
Makes 1 FULL 9×13 baking dish
4 Cups of mini bow tie pasta, cooked, drained and hot
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup a/p flour
4 Cups milk
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
16 oz. shredded monterey jack cheese
2 teaspoons seasoned salt (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 cans tunafish in water, drained WELL
3 cups frozen peas
2/3-1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
1-2 cups chopped mushrooms (optional)
1) Cook pasta until mostly cooked. Should still be too undercooked to enjoy straight out of the pan, but still mostly cooked. Drain. I usually get the water going and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, then start to make my sauce. Once the oven is ready and the sauce is ready, the pasta is too!
2) In a large pot or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat then sprinkle in flour. Whisk together and constantly until your “roux” is formed and it is a light tan color that smells toasty. Add chopped mushrooms if you are using them.
3) Slowly pour in milk and whisk together. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and starts to “plop plop plop”. Add mustard, onion powder, season salt and black pepper. Mix well and shut off heat. Add cheese and mik well until cheese has fully melted into the sauce. Add drained tuna and frozen peas.
4) Add sauce to cooked pasta in the pan you boiled the pasta in. Mix everything together WELL. Pour into baking dish and smooth out. Sprinkle with a liberal helping of seasoned panko bread crumbs.
5) Bake on 350 degrees F until the sauce in the middle of the dish is bubbling…about 45 minutes.
6) Let cool/set for 10 minutes while you enjoy a side salad, then serve and eat hot.
Peace and Good Eats to you and your Lovies,