Saturday, February 19, 2011

The dreaded tuna casserole!

I don't like fish.  Well, most fish that remotely resembles fish anyway.  Give me one of those Mrs. Paul's fish sticks made from minced fish and I'll happily consume it, but the close to real fish it is, the less I like it.  It tastes, well... fishy.  The notable exception to my rule is tuna and, of course, it is kind of removed from the source as well.  I like canned tuna.  I wouldn't be caught dead eating it out of the can, but I like tuna salad, creamed tuna over rice and tuna noodle casserole.

It wasn't until I was in college that I learned that tuna casserole was gross.  It was a Lenten staple in my house growing up and I always thought it was good.  My college chums assured me that it was gross, so for many years I didn't eat it, and given the way it looked in the cafeteria, that wasn't a bad choice.  But, recently tuna casserole has made a comeback in my home.  I usually have it once a month, always on a Thursday, because my girls have "meatless" lunch on Friday at school.  They always take leftovers.

With salmon being one of the superfoods, and tuna as a sidekick, I thought this would be an appropriate dish to feature.  I actually made this last Thursday and didn't get a picture.  It was my plan to write a post about my kids' lunches and include that.  However when my husband was in charge that night for dinner, he fed the kids all the tuna casserole, so alas, no pictures.  Maybe next month I'll take some shots and come back and put them in.  Pictures make blog reading more fun in my opinion!

Anyway,  I start by cooking 1 pound of pasta as directed.  When it's al dente, drain.  While that is cooking, start dicing up 3-4 mushrooms.  One could definitely slice them, but if anything that looked like a mushroom could be found on the daycare kids plates, you can bet that they would turn up their noses.  So, I chop them fine and call them "seasoning."  Toss the mushroom bits into medium sized saucepan with 4 tablespoons of melted butter.  Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes until tender.  Whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour (again, I use whole white wheat, but all purpose works too).  Cook a few more minutes to brown the flour.  Add 2 cups milk and whisk allowing to cook until thickened.  Next flake your tuna into the sauce.  I'm still using canned, but hope to find a suitable pouch-type tuna this next month. Follow that by putting in a large handful of cheddar cheese-I'm guessing 1 1/2 cups.  Whisk until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I used cheddar, but really any favorite cheese would work as long as it melts well.  I've been known to used sliced American when I ran out of cheddar, or throw in parmesan when I didn't have enough cheddar.  It's really a whatever works for you sort of thing.

Before serving, pour the cheesy sauce over the noodles, stir, and keep over the heat until it is heated through.  For this particular meal, I served the tuna noodle casserole with steamed broccoli, grape tomatoes and apple slices.  The kids ate well except for the broccoli.  I am seriously considering chopping the broccoli fine, throwing it in the casserole and calling it "seasoning."

Superfoods used in this meal:  whole wheat pasta (not quite in this case as I still have 4 bags of egg noodles from a previous stockpile, but as soon as they are gone, I'll use a whole wheat penne or rotini), tuna, broccoli, and tomatoes.

I ended up doing pretty well this week.  I don't think I fully achieved the serving amounts that the book suggests, but I did manage to hit all of the foods once, and most of them every day.  I think smoothies are an excellent way to incorporate the foods without it seeming to be a chore, so I think we will have one every day, either for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack, although the kids really like almonds and craisins in the morning too.  So many healthy foods, so little time! LOL

I thought it might be helpful to have the recipe in more of a recipe form, if you want to cut and paste and skip my story-telling jargon!

1 pound whole wheat pasta-cooked as directed and drained
3-4 mushrooms, sliced or diced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 cans albacore tuna
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste.

Saute mushrooms in butter.  Whisk in flour and cook a few minutes to brown flour.  Add milk and whisk until thickened.  Add tuna and cheese and heat through until cheese is melted and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Pour over pasta, heat through and serve.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for this! We grill a couple tuna steaks every few weeks and always have leftovers that are generally made into a tuna salad, going to try a casserole instead, yummy but we don't use cans so that'll be perfect!


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