Updated and Upgraded Tuna Noodle Casserole

I went looking for a tuna noodle casserole recipe that evoked the flavors of the dump-and-stir Campbell’s version, yet was a little more, dare I say, sophisticated.

I found this recipe on Epicurious, which was originally published in Gourmet. It was the perfect starting point. I played with the ratios and added some more veggies, along with plenty of parmesan cheese.

(To learn why I was eager to bake tuna noodle casserole, read this piece.)

I was thrilled with the result. It tastes almost exactly like the tuna noodle casserole of yore, just … better.

This recipe serves four for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (8 ounces) wide egg noodles (Pennsylvania Dutch brand recommended)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced (usually one pre-packaged bag or box)
  • 1 cup (about 3 stalks) celery, chopped
  • 1 cup petite peas
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium recommended)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed (4-5 ounces) shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 5-ounce cans tuna in olive oil, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the noodles. Drain and return to the pot when done. In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms begin sweating, then add the soy sauce. When the mushrooms have finished throwing off their water after another 5 minutes, add the sherry. Continue to cook until that liquid has been incorporated and cooked off.

Step 2. Once you have the vegetables going, start on the sauce. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium pot over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Cook for a couple minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock (there should be no lumps). Bring to a gentle boil. Once the sauce is boiling, whisk in the milk, then 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Finally, add the dijon mustard and red pepper flakes and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

Step 3. Add the peas to the pan once the remaining vegetables have cooked and the heat is off (adding them frozen is just fine). Stir to combine.

 

 

Step 4. Add the vegetables to the sauce pot, then the tuna. Stir gently to combine. Pour this mixture over the drained pasta and stir again.

 

 

Step 5. Empty the pasta mixture into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Then make the topping. Combine the bread crumbs and remaining parmesan cheese in a bowl. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and toss together. My pre-shredded parmesan didn’t mix together well with the bread crumbs, so I tossed everything in a food processor and pulsed a few times.

Step 6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the topping has browned and the casserole is bubbling. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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