Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Not Your Granny's TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE - Church PotLuck Main DIsh

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Easy Cheesy PEAsy... Have to be honest, I like the idea of a tuna casserole much better than I what I have tasted.  generally they are pretty bland, butter noodles, a thin runny sauce and not enough tuna flavor.

This is NOT that casserole.

I decided to not use traditional egg noodles.  I spent a year cooking Italian dishes (52 Authentic Italian Recipes) and making pasta.  While this does have a boxed pasta, it uses some of those tricks I learned.  Cook your pasta VERY al Dente... I cook mine 2 minutes less than recommended on the box.  Then I mix with the sauce.  This allows the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce, absorbing much of the liquid.  Never rinse your pasta.  This keeps a thin layer of starch on the pasta which again allows the sauce to stick to the pasta.

Take a look at the serving plates in the photo above.  No pools of sauce.  Instead the sauce sticks to the pasta (where it belongs)!

I doubled up the peas (pretty and adds taste and texture).  I added more tuna to the dish than most recipes and best of all, I kicked up the spices with a tsp of liquified Chipotle Pepper in Adobe Sauce.  Those little blue cans you see in the Tex-Mex food section of your grocery store.  I take those cans, run them through a food processor (or blender) and liquify the peppers.  This stores well in a small mason jar in the refrigerator and a great way to add powerful spice to a dish.  Adds a great little WOW factor to the dish...

This Tastes FANTASTIC!!!  Lots of texture with the al Dente pasta and the crunchy toasted bread crumbs.  LOTS of flavors, from the cheesy mix to the peas and that hint of Chipotle Spice, all adding to the tuna, this is a dish to serve for family, friends, neighborhood PotLuck or special event.  Or on a Hump Day Casserole Day.

Like I said... Not Granny's Tuna Casserole!

OK... Here's what I did...

Not Your Granny's

  • 2 TBS Butter, melted
  • 1 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Red Onion, Minced
  • 1 Cup Chopped Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 2 TBS Paprika
  • 1 tsp liquified Chipotle in Adobe Sauce, Bought Canned, then ran through a food processor or blender(Can substitute Cayenne Pepper Spice)
  • Large Pinch of Salt
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Half and Half
  • 2 Cups Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Cup Fontina Cheese (any good melty cheese
  • 1 Bag (2 Cups) Frozen Peas
  • 1 Box, 1 Pound Pasta, Use crinkle shape to capture the cheesy goo
  • 3 (6 Ounce) Cans Tuna, drained well, broken into small chunks
  • Season with Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix the Bread Crumbs and the butter together. Spread the moist crumbs in a thin layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for only 3 minutes to toast. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a Large heavy bottomed soup pot, over medium high heat, add the Olive Oil, let it get hot, add the minced Onion. Saute until onions get tender and begin to turn translucent.... About 5 minutes
  4. Add the Mushrooms, Paprika and Chipotle in Adobe Sauce and stir to mix. Saute for another minute.
  5. Add the chicken Stock and Half and Half. Bring pot to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the cheeses, stir to mix and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Liquid will begin to thicken slightly.
  6. While the pot is simmering, in a pasta pot, cook the box of pasta according to package directions EXCEPT, cook al Dente style, 2 MINUTES less than recommended on the package. This allows the pasta to have a chewy bite, but also leaves a coat of starch on the pasta that helps the cheesy liquid to stick to the pasta.
  7. Drain pasta and mix in the soup pot. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, allowing the pasta to soak into the pasta.
  8. During the final minute, add the bag of frozen peas and the tuna, continue to stir to mix for the last minute.
  9. Transfer to 9X13 Baking Casserole Dish. spread to single layer. Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes or until Bread Crumbs get a golden brown delicious toast
  11. Serve Warm and ENJOY
  12. NOTE: Tastes delicious as a cold PotLuck dish as well, either way, ENJOY!


This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Church PotLuck Dishes"!

A list of something NEW worthy of being shown off at a neighborhood BYODish (Bring Your Own Dish) Party, a Family special occasion dinner, Any Big Holiday Gathering or of course that glorious day when you bring a dish to share with your Church family...

Ages ago, literally almost a half century ago I was listening to our pastor talking about a PotLuck Dinner. It happened to be scheduled around a church work day when we were expected to weed, polish and do general cleaning and maintenance around the church (you know, back in the day when there were no no-wax floors and church pews smelled of Old English furniture polish). I am of course paraphrasing, but as I recall the pastor said,

"A potluck, like a church requires work. At a potluck everyone is expected to contribute.. At a church no one should come empty handed and no one should leave unfed".
I will confess that in my youth I brought more store bought plastic spoons and forks than I ever brought covered dishes and crock pots of fresh made love and caring delights. But now that I have become a hobbyist cook, I occasionally am reminded of those days and people from my youth. I reminded and I do wish that I could drop a dish of some new creation on those old tables at my fondly remembered Liberty Baptist Church.  Tables covered with newspapers and loaded with God's bounty prepared with love and caring... Enjoy


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