Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuna Noodle Hotdish (Casserole) Happiness

My mom used to make Tuna Noodle Something or another when I was a kid. I have such fond memories of picking out both the tuna and the peas. There is a special talent in picking out flaky bits of tuna from your meal. I should have gotten some sort of medal. The only other thing I remember about this meal, besides not liking it, was that my mom used tiny ring shaped pasta. I would always try to see how many rings of pasta I could stack on each tine of the fork. I know it drove her bonkers when I did that. There is no question where Blockette got her mealtime stall tactics.

I wasn't surprised that Blockette didn't like this dish. She ate it though, even if it was under extreme duress. She wanted cookies for dessert. That was motivation enough for her. I never fell for that parental tactic. If I didn't like something, there was no way on God's green earth anyone was going to get me to eat it. How lucky am I that Blockette isn't that picky? I must have done something good to reverse all years of bad dinner table karma.

Whether Blockette liked this or not is completely beside the point. The point is, I liked this. Maybe it's because there aren't any slimy canned peas in this version?

Mrblocko wants to start incorporating fish into our diet. I greatly dislike fish, but I know it is good for us. This hotdish (or casserole for those of you who are weirdos outside of the Midwest) was my first stepping stone into fish cuisine. I know it's only canned tuna, but I'm still a picky eater. We're taking baby steps here.

I found this recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole from Food.People.Want. It originally came from a cookbook called San Francisco A La Carte. This cookbook got 4.5 stars on Amazon.com. If the other recipes are even half as good as this one, there is no question why it got such a high rating.

As usual I made a few changes to the recipe. The biggest 2 being I roasted the red peppers, and increased the amount of tuna. I did all the prep work the night before, so the meal came together lickety split.

Not My Mother's Tuna Noodle Hotdish
6 oz egg noodles, (half a package) cooked al dente, drained
1 T fresh thyme leaves (1 t dried)
1 10 oz can cream of celery soup
1/2 c milk
3 five oz cans of tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 c finely chopped celery
1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped (about 1/3 c)
1/3 c chopped green onions, white and green parts
1/2 c mayo
3/4 c cheese (I used sharp cheddar and monterey jack) + additional 2 T or so for topping
black and cayenne pepper to taste
heaping 1/4 c chopped toasted almonds

(I did the following the night before to save time, but you can easily do this the same day.) Preheat the broiler. Half the red pepper and remove the guts. Smash the pepper so it lays flat on a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Broil until it is blackened to your preference. I cooked mine for 8 min on each side. Remove pepper from the oven and place in a ziploc bag for 10 minutes. This will allow you to easily peel the skin off. Once the pepper is cool, finely chop. In a medium size storage container, mix peppers, celery, onion, mayo, cheese and black and cayenne pepper to taste. Store in fridge until you are ready to use.

In the mean time, toast your almonds in a small pan on the stove top, stirring frequently until they turn a light golden brown. Once the almonds are cool, place them in a storage bag.

When you are ready to bake the hotdish, preheat the oven to 425. Boil water and cook noodles per package directions. While the noodles are cooking, heat the soup and milk in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir to make sure the soup doesn't burn. Once the soup is smooth, add in tuna and the veggie mayo mix. Heat through on low until the noodles are ready. Drain the noodles and place them back into the pot you cooked them in. Stir in the thyme. Add the veggie cheesy sauce and mix until the noodles are coated. Place the contents in 2 qt casserole dish. Top with toasted almonds, remaining cheese and more cayenne pepper if desired. Bake 20 minutes until bubbly and brown on top. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Blockette ate this much better as a cold leftover, especially after I picked out the "red parts." She ate her whole portion without having to be bribed with dessert. Now I don't have to feel bad about wanting to make this again. She will eat it, it just has to be cold.


Please leave me a little comment. Comments are like candy. Tasty tasty validating candy!