Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Too Much Tuna -- What to do (Let's not call it a tuna casserole, let's just call it a tuna bake)

Tuna is good for me.  Love me a great tuna steak.  But canned tuna, eh.  Though I keep trying (see first sentence:  Tuna is good for me. And you.).  Also, I keep buying it.  Evidently I keep forgetting that I haven't eaten canned tuna in a while because I don't love it.  So I buy more, and it joins my collection of forgotten tuna.

Witness, friends:  My tuna problem.  My oppor-TUNA-ty (ooo, yeah, that was bad, but I couldn't resist ... )
[And yes, I did rearrange re-pose my tuna so the labels were facing forward and the "bags" or pouches or whatever they are were standing instead of floundering - ha! - on top of the cans.]
My Tuna Solution:
New recipe -- Every Day Food Magazine's Tuna Casserole (with a few tiny tweaks -- who am I to heavily edit Martha Stewart? Nobody, I tell you, nobody.)

My version:
I used Barilla's extra fiber small shells, rather than elbow macaroni, and extra Parmesan. Duh.
Oh, and it was (still is) delish!
It was actually challenging to find the recipe online. But my researcher skills kicked in and I got it for you.  In the October issue is a feature called "better-for-you-bakes" and I fell for the closeup of a giant spoonful of this recipe.  The photo was about five inches large on ipad which is how I get the subscription.  There are pluses and minuses to magazine e-versions versus the paper versions.  But, for me, despite the fact that I prefer the tactile pleasure of actual paper, the e-versions now come down heavy on the plus side.  E-mags are vital to my husband's mental health which is not good when he  sees magazines everywhere he turns in the house ... but that's another blog post. 

I love shells.  They remind me of my Nana Piscitelli's home cooking.  But any small pasta that can catch some flavor will work - elbows, mini ziti or penne, shells.  I like very well done pasta, but this dish came out perfectly when I UNDERCOOKED the pasta by TWO MINUTES before adding it to the other ingredients.  
I love watching a little oil go into the pan ... it means some magic is about to happen! (And I think I've almost mastered pouring with my left and photographing with my right.)
Salt and pepper, mix.  Then add the 2T of flour to give it a little body.  Stir to coat the onion.  Then add in the liquids -- broth and milk.  I whisked it lightly since the metal whisk is not good for my beloved pot.  Switched back to my trusty wooden spoon as soon as it was all mixed.

Adding chicken broth and milk.  I used 2% instead of whole. It should have some fat in it otherwise the mixture will turn out too runny.
Mix with whisk continually* for a few minutes on lower heat to keep the milk from burning.
*I prefer the word "continually" rather than "constantly"  because the latter makes me nervous about untold horrors and burning milk if I stop/rest.
In go the peas (I could have used more) and the tuna. (Note resting spoon for a quick pic and NO burning!)
And add in the almost fully cooked pasta.

Spooned it into 13x9 inch Pyrex.  Any 13x9 incher will do. (I know it says to *pour* the mixture into the pan, but mine is one seriously heavy pot -- two hands needed, even when empty.  That's the pot's ONLY drawback, I LOVE this pot.  Love cooking in it.  Love seeing it on my stove (where it lives, why would I keep something so pretty in a drawer?  I would not.  Even if I had room for it.  And could lift it.).
Mmmm, freshly grated Parm takes me to my happy place. (Do you love Parm?  Do you own this little grating gizmo?  It has been rocking my world for years and you need to own one, too.  If I ever get enough followers/commenters for a giveaway, this will be my first!)
Top it with the Parm/panko bread crumb (any bread crumbs will do)/ oil mixture.  The 2 t of olive oil added to the panko/Parm mixture just makes it all stay put. Takes the place of other fats like butter and heavier cheeses.
Just out of the oven. It's resting, as Martha instructs in the recipe. Looks yummy.  And it IS yummy!

Verdict: YUM! Excellent way to get that tuna down the hatch (and off of my selves).  Perfect with a salad for lunch or dinner.  Great leftovers/ reheat (with a little extra Parm, natch)/ eat well at to the office.
Next -- easiest taco-ish chili ever.
xoxo JPV

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