From Adage to Gourmet, casseroles have been highlighted as a resurging trend. Given the current economy, it’s not a surprising prediction. After all, casseroles almost always fall under the comfort cooking and budget cooking categories (unless you make the yummy scallop casserole from the Canadian Living Entertaining Cookbook which costs a lot to make but is worth every bite).
I grew up in a casserole-free zone. My dad didn’t like even the idea of casseroles one bit and my mother didn’t see any reason to rock the dining table over such a small bias. As a result, I didn’t make (or taste!) my first tuna casserole until I started writing my last book. I know it sounds weird but they just didn’t teach us about tuna casserole in chef school!
After a bit of trial and error, I discovered that adding a tomato-crumb topping cuts the richness of classic tuna casserole and makes the finished dish look tempting, too. I’ve shared samples of my recipe with tuna casserole devotees and they have all given this recipe two forks up!
Have you been making more casseroles in 2009?
Homey Tuna-Tomato Casserole*
3 cups (750 mL) short pasta such as penne, rotini or gemelli
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
3 green onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
½ tsp (2 mL) each dried thyme and salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
2 cans (each 61/2 oz/184 g) chunk light tuna, drained
1 cup (250 mL) regular or light mayonnaise
¼ cup (50 mL) sour cream
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tomato, sliced thinly
½ cup (250 mL) whole wheat bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup (175 mL) shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Boil the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain well and reserve.
Meanwhile, melt the butter n a small skillet set over medium heat. Add the green onions, celery, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes or until softened.
In a large bowl, flake the tuna using a fork. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard and blend until combined. Mix in the onion mixture. Stir in the noodles and transfer to a buttered 8 cup (2L) casserole dish.
Topping: spread the sliced tomatoes evenly over the top of the casserole. Toss the crumbs with the garlic until evenly combined. Add the cheese and toss to combine. Sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes.
Bake the casserole for 30 minutes or until bubbly and very hot. Makes 4 servings.
Makeahead: Cover casserole and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Extend cooking time to 45 minutes if cooking from cold.
*(Recipe excerpted from Dana’s Top Ten Table (Harper Collins 2009)