Friday, March 4, 2011

Not Your Grandma's Tuna Casserole

The other day, while planning meals and putting together a grocery list, I got a craving for tuna casserole. I figured I could deconstruct it and make a more "grownup" version.

First, I figured I'd bring out the essential (to me) ingredients: Tuna, mushrooms, egg noodles, a green vegetable (my mother used frozen peas, but I'm not a huge fan), and something salty/crunchy (which, in our family, was always crushed potato chips).

I sauteed thinly sliced garlic in olive oil, keeping a watchful eye so it lightly toasted, but didn't burn. I then added fresh, sliced crimini mushrooms. Once the mushrooms were sauteed, I then added canned, water-packed tuna to the mixture (since I wanted it cooked through, it seemed it'd have been a sin to do that to a good piece of fresh tuna) and plenty of lemon juice and black pepper.

Since there was lemon juice in the mixture, I sauteed fresh green beans separately, to be added in when combining the pasta. (Tip: Acids can cause a loss of color in green vegetables.)

Once the pasta was done, I added it and the green beans to the tuna and mushroom mixture. I gave a splash of milk, to add a slight bit of creaminess, and let the dish absorb it. I didn't want anything too gloopy, a la canned cream of mushroom soup (eew), just a little something. I finished it all by adding whole wheat panko bread crumbs, for the crunch factor. I seasoned each component very lightly with kosher salt and added a little more in the end, to ensure I didn't over-season.

The end result was a good, flavorful, healthful dish. I liked the interaction of the pepper and the mushrooms and the bite of the sauteed green beans, vs. the mushy vegetables that usually come out of the traditional casserole. With minimal cooking, the tuna stayed flaky and held its structure instead of getting mushy. The dish held up well for lunch today, too. P even enjoyed it cold.

Lunch was leftovers from the day before (yay, spaghetti squash) and snacks were a tangelo and seedless red grapes. Do I need to say I had raisin bran again for breakfast? This time I did add banana.


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