Tuna Casserole

Yield: approx. 3 quarts, 12 servings that are 1.5 cups each (1 serving is approx. 668 calories)

Hands-on: 35 minutes.  Total: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-oz) package ziti pasta
  • 1 (15-oz) can of french cut green beans, low sodium, drained
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 (4-oz) packages fresh gourmet mushroom blend (when doubling recipe, instead of 4 of these, I get 2 of these and 1 8-oz package of sliced portobella mushrooms).
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk (could substitute part of all of this with cream).
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2.5 cups (~10 oz) shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup finely shredded (or grated) Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (12-oz) can solid white tuna in spring water, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
  • 1/2 cup crushed potato chips
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • Garnish: sliced fresh chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add leeks and saute for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Transfer leek mixture to a small bowl.  Wipe skillet clean (or not – I usually don’t).
  3. Melt 4 Tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat; whisk in flour.  Cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in milk and broth.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually whisk in Cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese until smooth.  Stir in salt and pepper.
  4. Stir cheese & cream mixture into pasta.  Stir in tuna, chives, and parsley (or tarragon), beans and leek mixture.  Lightly spray 3 casserole dishes that are 1.5 quart each (6 cups).  Divide mixture evenly between the 3 casserole dishes.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together crushed potato chips, panko, melted butter (2 Tbsp), and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over pasta mixture.  If freezing, use 3 small ziploc bags and divide the topping evenly between them and freeze with the casserole.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving (allows the dish to firm up a little).

Note: if freezing, put layer of saran wrap over the pasta.  Then lay the ziploc bag with topping on top.  Then put lid on the casserole (or cover tightly with plastic and foil).  To cook later: thaw in fridge for a day or so, then bake covered in foil for about 30 minutes at 350 F.  Uncover, sprinkle topping over the top, and bake an additional 15 minutes uncovered until the topping is golden brown.

Source: Southern Living magazine, December 2013 (pg. 175)

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