Throwback but Better

This recipe for an updated tuna noodle cazuela {casserole} is ridiculously good. While I was at Trader Joe’s trying to not buy all of the new products, and just focus on my list, ha ha, I realized that I wasn’t sure what the original recipe for tuna noodle casserole consisted of. Obviously canned tuna and a condensed soup of some sort. A no skill required, long shelf life ingredients and comfort food all rolled into one dish. Probably originated in the what, the 1940’s? By someone who thought fish and cheese should go together, because, that is not a popular culinary pairing. I don’t remember my mom making this really… ever. She isn’t a big casserole person, aside from her amazing tamale pie. Anyhow, long story short, this version of tuna noodle casserole is just as easy and doesn’t require canned cream soup, you’ll thank me.

Since I have made this a handful of times, I decided to try a different shape of pasta. Let me tell you, this lily shaped pasta was a perfect fit for this creamy baked dish.

TJ didn’t have Piquillo peppers so I grabbed jarred roasted red peppers, they will do in a pinch. Other than that, instead of canned soup, we make our own roux, I added a little garlic and crushed red pepper because you know me. This is a simple and straight forward recipe for any night of the week.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Cazuela

*recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

12 ounces farfalle (bow tie) pasta

4 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 piquillo peppers, sliced (6 ounces) *substitute jarred roasted red peppers

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

One 6-ounce can or jar solid white tuna in oil, drained and flaked

Salt and Pepper

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion (garlic and red pepper if you want) and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the pasta, frozen baby peas, sliced piquillo peppers, Parmesan cheese and tuna and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish, a cazuela (casserole dish).

In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the panko breadcrumbs and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole and bake for 10 minutes or until bubbling.

Serve right away. Pairs well with an Albariño or a good Chardonnay.

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