Sometimes when we cook at home, we go way out, and other times we just make something "not special." We aren't too proud to throw a frozen pizza in the oven, or even hit a drive thru someplace and get something fried and not healthy. We might make a fabulous meal with seared scallops and meticulously prepared risotto, but we are just as likely to slap a couple grilled cheese together. It's not surprising that on this Monday evening after a long day at work, neither one of us wanted to cook. Sadly, it's a necessary evil and I drew the short straw.
Recently I made a batch of my Mom's famous shrimp salad. The Chef gobbled it all right up and said it was something I needed to make all the time. Duly noted. My next trip to the store I stocked up on pasta and salad ingredients. I happened to stop in a smaller store and unbelievably they didn't have the baby shrimp I needed, so I grabbed some tuna. Mom used to make it with tuna once in a while so I figured I'd just tuck it in the cabinet until I made the salad again.
Fast forward to Monday evening and our choices were a whole chicken that would need to be butchered before cooking, and cans of tuna. We weren't feeling a cold salad for dinner so...... why not whip up a tuna and noodle casserole and dinner is done? That's exactly what I did. I had a bag of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer, plenty of cheese and some fun pasta shapes so dinner was in the oven in a snap. Here is how I made it.
The Baker's Tuna Noodle Casserole
2 cans tuna in water, drained and broken into chunks
1 lb package pasta such as farfalle or shells
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
2 teaspoons onion powder
salt and pepper
fresh chives or scallions
panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook per package directions until just al dente. Do not overcook- the pasta is going to be baked.
Place the frozen vegetables in a large colander. Drain the pasta right over the vegetables. Let stand to completely drain pasta.
Meanwhile, in the same pot, add the evaporated milk and one can of water. Bring to boil, then remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper and add fresh chives or scallions (a couple tablespoons is fine) and the onion powder. Return the pasta and vegetables to the pot. Add the tuna and gently stir to coat the pasta.
Pour into well buttered 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle the top generously with panko bread crumbs. Melt the butter and drizzle over. Pop in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and golden brown on top. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
Wasn't that easy? No canned cream of something soup needed to get a rich and creamy sauce. The panko make a butery crunchy top crust and those vegetables. LOVE those vegetables. Who doesn't love lima beans?!?!