UPDATED TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Orecchiette (the ear-shaped pasta) are particularly good in this dish, as they offer nooks where peas can nestle. But any short noodle will do, including penne, shells and egg noodles. Use the water in the can that the tuna was packed in, for extra flavor. Same with the celery leaves and parsley stems; don't throw them away. If you stuff stale bread in the freezer, fresh breadcrumbs are moments away; just whirl them in a food processor. Dry crusts may not process as finely, but consider that a bonus: Those buttery chunks add texture to the casserole. From Jo Marshall.
• 8 oz orecchiette or other short noodle (see Note)
• 1 stick butter (8 tbsp., divided), plus more for buttering dish
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced, leaves included (see Note)
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 5 to 6 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
• 1/4 c. flour
• 3 (5 oz.) cans tuna in water, reserving water (see Note)
• 1 to 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
• 1 c. milk
• 1 c. frozen peas, thawed
• 1/2 c. chopped parsley (see Note)
• 1 1/2 c. shredded Colby Jack or other melting cheese, or more to taste
• Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Dried dill or thyme, to taste, if desired
• 1 c. coarse homemade breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil pasta, then drain.
Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add onion and celery and sauté until tender. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, and sauté until mushrooms have given up most of their liquid.
Stir in flour and cook, stirring, until the flour just begins to turn color. (If it seems overly dry, add another tablespoon of butter.)
Drain tuna water into a measuring cup, adding enough chicken broth to make 1½ cups. Stir tuna water/broth into the skillet to make a roux. Add milk and cook, stirring, until sauce is slightly thickened.
Toss tuna, pasta, peas, parsley and cheese with the vegetable/sauce mixture. Add lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper, along with dill or thyme. Transfer to a buttered 9- by 13-inch casserole dish.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and stir in the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the top of casserole, and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbling and nicely browned.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 600 Fat 27 g Sodium 1,020 mg
Carbohydrates 51 g Saturated fat 16 g Calcium 330 mg
Protein 39 g Cholesterol 110 mg Dietary fiber 4 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 ½ bread/starch, 4 lean meat, 3 fat.