Friday, January 18

Vegetable Tuna Casserole

Don't let the first word in this recipe throw you off. This is absolutely delish! Visually its awesome because the variety of veggies gives great color. Taste wise it is super creamy and lingers in your mouth nicely. But its not boring. There is the usual texture due to the panko topping of breadcrumbs, but then further into the dish with the non mushy peas. I hate mushy peas. Growing up my parents relied heavily on canned vegetables stuff they smartly did themselves (which were good) and store bough (not so good) like canned peas. army green. mushy. yuck. You guys know what I am talking about right? Please tell me I am not alone on this werid canned vegetable rabbit trail. 

Anyways, back to this yummy make ahead casserole, it is also seasonally versatile. I have used many different vegetables in it over the last couple years based on what looks good at the grocery store, whats in season, or whats on sale. I made this ahead of time one night I knew I was going to be working, and had my husband throw it in the oven to finish it off. It was super easy to make ahead, but there is no canned products except for the tuna. Everything is fresh and preservative free. You can really taste the difference between using cream of whatever and using a fresh milk/cheesy base with ingredients you probably have already. Try it! 

My mouth is watering thinking about it again. We just had it last week. I should eat breakfast. Sad. (My husband just laughed at me because I rolled my eyes at myself) I shouldn't be hungry for dinner at 8am! LOL oh well. It is one of my favorite things. Its like healthy comfort eating. Although, since I am constantly trying new recipes, we don't eat it often.

Makes 4-6 servings


1 stalk of celery
approx 4oz of extra wide pasta noodles (half of a bag)
1 Tbs salt (for pasta water)
2 Tbs butter, unsalted
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 or one full medium onion (depending on how much you like onion)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp dried celery flakes
1 tsp minced garlic or 1 clove finely chopped
1 can of tuna (5oz), drained
3 Tbs butter, unsalted
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
2 cups of milk, 1%
3 Tbs panko breadcrumbs 
1 cup frozen peas (keep frozen until needed in directions)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (although have used half mozzarella and half cheddar and that was also good)


1. Cook approx 1/3 of 12oz bag of extra wide noodles in a large pot with 1 Tbs salt according to directions on bag - one minute shy of al dente. Drain. Set aside. They will continue cooking later in the oven. 

2. Chop the veggies (red pepper, onion, and celery). Heat a skillet to medium with the 2 Tbs of butter. Saute the veggies in the melted butter for approx 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, celery flakes, and parsley flakes to season them. (Add any additional veggies in your veggie drawer that need to be used up). 

3. To the skillet add in 1tsp of minced garlic or 1 clove finely chopped and cook for another 4 minutes. Add in the frozen peas and tuna and stir until heated another 2 minutes.

4. While you are waiting to add stuff to the skillet make the milk sauce. Its easy. I will show you! (pppssst this is a great way to make homemade mac & cheese) Grab a small pot or sauce pan and melt 3 Tbs butter on medium but stay close don't wander off.  

5. Once the butter is fully absolutely melted, add in the flour. Let the flour cook out for a approx 1 minute. It should be yellowish looking and clumping and bubbling. Slowly pour in the milk. Continue to whisk or stir until the mixture begins to thicken. You are looking for the thickness of buttermilk. So if you dip a spoon in it, it should cling and coat the spoon, not run off. (see picture above) This takes only a couple minutes but its important to stay close. One moment it will be runny and the other super thick. The moment you see its thick enough remove it from all heat. Once it accidently gets too thick you can't really fix it. Trust me. Just stand by the stove and stir. 

5. Pour the milk sauce over the noodles and veg in the skillet. If your skillet is oven proof, keep everything in there. If you need to use a baking dish, butter it, and then transfer the ingredients over. Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs and cheese. If you are making this ahead for later in the week, Stop here. Cover and refrig the dish for up to 3 days or so. 

6. If you are making this the night of... bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Top should be golden and bubbling. Your house should smell amazing. 

So when I got home that night from work I had two full guys and this leftover (see picture below). I was shocked. This dish usually feeds 4 people at least and 3/4s of it was gone. Guys just eat and eat when the gals aren't around! Hahaha! But you can see how nice and green the peas stayed and didn't turn into the mushy canned peas mess. 

From my kitchen to yours! 

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