December 11, 2009
Remember that time when AC and I thought it was freezing outside...and it only ended up being 61 degrees? Well, we're not playing around this time: it's cold outside.
For the past couple of days, the high out here has been in the 40's. While I realize that may sound absurdly comfortable to my Chicago friends who are experiencing single digit conditions right now, it's actually a record low for San Francisco. And when you're in a city that's not used to such cold temperatures -- heaters don't always work, hats/gloves are virtually nonexistent, etc. It's all relative, right? ;)
Anyway, for us, cold weather is just another excuse to bust out the much loved casserole dish! It's also my excuse to use the "I'm not going to the gym -- it's too cold outside" card. Or the "no YOU walk the dog, I'll get sick" face. Ahhhh yes, the miseries of cold weather :P
This hearty dish is a jazzed up version of the 1950's standard tuna noodle casserole -- the epitome of comfort food. However, unlike its predecessor, it has nothing to do with cans of cream of mushroom soup (my best friend at Campbell's is going to kill me). This creamy noodle casserole uses mushrooms, sherry, and reduced-fat milk for a delightfully rich "sherried mushrooom" base sauce instead. Fresh lemon juice is then layered in for a hint of brightness. And tender broccoli florets and flaky moist tuna add yet another dimension of flavor (and protein!). When this comes hot out of the oven, all bubbling and oozing over the sides, smelling oh-so-divine...you'll begin to wish that it was this cold everyday.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Adapted from Gourmet, 2004
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
24 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 crown of broccoli, cut into small chunks OR 1 bag frozen peas (recommended)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup Sherry
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups reduced-fat 2% milk
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 (6-oz) cans tuna, drained
1/2 cup coarsely grated Cheddar
dash of Tabasco sauce and red pepper flakes, to taste
16 oz dried curly egg noodles
2 cups panko or bread crumbs
2 cups coarsely grated Cheddar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Take out a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
Cook onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil with a pinch of salt in a 2-3 quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add mushrooms and broccoli, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to sauté mushrooms, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Sherry and boil, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Remove mixture from heat and pour into a large bowl.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in the same saucepan. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Add 1/2 cup cheese. Season sauce with salt, pepper, tabasco sauce, and red pepper flakes.
Cook noodles in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles in a colander and return to pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly.
Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss again, then sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.