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Creamy Tuna Noodle Cazuela

Friday, December 28, 2012

Recipe adopted from Food & Wine magazine.

Photo by Johnny Miller of Food & Wine

If I were to take a survey asking for childhood recipes for tuna noodle casserole, chances are it would contain little more than pasta, tuna, and the classic Campbell's condensed cream of mushroom/celery soup.  Lucky for us though, the fifties casserole decade is long past.  Below you'll see that with the use of a homemade b├ęchamel sauce, piquillo peppers, freshly grated cheese, and a panko crust, it really doesn't take much to elevate this classic comfort food to a whole new level.

INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces fartalle (bow-tie) pasta

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk or half-and-half
1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas
3/4 cup (6 ounces) piquillo peppers, sliced (roasted red peppers can be substituted)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
One 6-ounce can solid white tuna in oil, drained and flaked
Salt and freshly grated pepper

1/2 cup panko
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Cook the pasta until al dente.  Drain, rinse with cold water to stop any further cooking, and reserve.

While the pasta is cooking, melt three tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pan for the sauce.  Add the onion and cook over high heat for three minutes.  Add the flour and whisk for one minute.  Add the milk, whisk, and bring to a boil.  Once a boil is met, reduce the heat to medium, and whisk for another three minutes, or until the sauce thickens.  [Side note:  this is yet another example of what you can do with a b├ęchamel sauce].

Once thickened, add the pasta, peas, peppers, cheese, and tuna.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer the mixture to a large, lightly greased, baking dish.

In a small saute pan, melt one tablespoon of butter and add the panko.  Stir, and cook over medium heat for one minute, or until golden.  Sprinkle the panko mixture over the casserole, and transfer the dish to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, and let rest for five minutes before enjoying.

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