Tuna Noodle Casserole

I didn’t grow up eating a lot of “traditional” foods.  I didn’t eat Kraft Dinner, grilled cheese sandwiches or casseroles in general.  When I went away to college I started to branch out and try some of these foods.  Kraft Dinner never really caught on but I became a fan of grilled cheese (with or without bacon) and discovered my love for pot pies and tuna noodle casseroles.

Something about making tuna noodle casserole makes me feel a bit like a Stepford wife and I love it!  There is something oh so Betty Crocker about pulling a bunch of packaged foods out of the pantry and making a meal that the whole family would love.  Not that I’m married… or children… but you get the point.

Tuna noodle casserole is one of those recipe that begs for interpretation.  I use this recipe from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook which serves as a good base.  From there I build.  This time around I added some carrots, green peppers on corn.  Green peas are a good things to throw in there as well.  Really most vegetables that you may have on hand would probably work well.  I also recommend going the route of the breadcrumb topping – a totally yummy and crunchy addition.

This is a perfect recipe for these cold days when you just want to cuddle under your blanket… with a bowl of tuna noodle casserole!  oh wait, maybe that’s just me…

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Old-Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Canola oil cooking spray
2 cups dried whole wheat ribbon noodles
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups low fat or whole milk, warm
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
6 white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (6-ounce) cans tuna packed in water, drained
3/4 cup dried whole wheat bread crumbs

Method

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture bubbles but does not brown. Slowly pour milk into flour mixture, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly, about 3 to 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set white sauce aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add peppers, mushrooms, onions, salt and pepper and cook for about 7 minutes, or until mushrooms give up their liquid. Add tuna and cooked noodles and toss to combine. Transfer to baking dish and pour reserved white sauce over the top, covering it completely. Season with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, mix together bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange bread crumbs evenly over top of white sauce and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

(from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook)

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