I was just reading an article about canned tuna! Don’t laugh, what else should I be doing on a Saturday morning? I read that according to Reddit, there has been a 30% increase in the mentions of tuna melts on since the pandemic began. Canned tuna references were up 60%! This is what people are doing during the pandemic. Eating tuna, buying tuna, and posting about tuna! It’s a weird new world we’re in, that’s for sure!
I remembered that not too long ago, I had made a tuna noodle casserole upon request for one of my personal chef clients in Willowbrook. She has a houseful of pre-teens, teens, and college students in her big family who are staying home during Covid-19. When I cooked for them last time, I made two giant pans of tuna noodle casserole. I didn’t take a picture of it, and it left my mind, because I kind of thought, “This is a dish nobody wants to really hear about! I’m a personal chef, certainly people aren’t looking to me for dishes like tuna noodle casserole!” Well. It really was good. I searched and searched for the perfect recipe to adapt. All I knew is I didn’t want any processed gross ingredients in it like canned soup. And to me, for a tuna noodle casserole, you have to have potato chips on the top. What would be the point of eating a tuna noodle casserole without potato chip crumbs? Talk about the perfect comfort food!
This article also mentioned a new cookbook, which I can’t wait to get. It’s called The Tinned Fish Cookbook: Easy-to-Make Meals from Ocean to Plate by Bart van Olphen. Something about this feels so right for this time we are living in. A lot of my client’s have texted me for ideas on what to make with pantry ingredients, and tuna is high on my list! As are sardines! (Granted, you have to like that kind of thing! Sardines are one of those love it or hate it foods; tuna is more desirable somehow.)
I loved the text message that my personal chef client in Willowbrook sent me the night I made tuna casserole! It validated my feelings about this retro comfort food dish!
Here is the recipe:
TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
- 8 ounces small pasta (shells, macaroni, farfalle, whatever you like)
- 4 Tablespoons butter , divided
- 1 c. chopped celery
- 1/4 chopped onion
- 3/4 cup frozen organic peas (or Trader Joe’s English Peas!)
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced or grated on the microplane.
- 4 T. flour (Wondra flour, preferably)
- 1 can broth, low sodium preferably (chicken or vegetable broth)
- 1 cup whole milk
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of dried dill
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons fresh choped flatleaf parsley
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese , divided
- 5 ounces good canned Italian tuna packed in oil, drained well.
- 1/2 cup crushed potato chips
- 1 Tablespoon butter , melted
- Cook the pasta until slightly under al-dente.( You want the pasta underdone, since you’re going to bake the casserole.)
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Add onion,celery,and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the peas, and remove vegetables from pan and set aside.
- Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter to the pan; add the Wondra and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Stir constantly until thickened and bubbly, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add salt, dill, lemon juice, parsley, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
- Remove from heat and stir in the pasta, vegetables and tuna. Pour mixture into a 9×13’’ or similar size baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.
- Mix the potato chips/butter together and sprinkle it over the casserole.
- Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes
Enjoy! You may never again eat a casserole like this with abandon! Why shouldn’t you? It’s the perfect thing to eat during a pandemic! Comfort in the form of good canned tuna and egg noodles! And of course, potato chips!