Tuna Noodle Goodness

A few nights ago,  I stood in the kitchen, as I often do, holding the refrigerator door open and wondering what I was going to possibly have for dinner.

If you’ve been to my house, you know this isn’t that unusual.

If you’re my husband, this probably drives you crazy.

I pulled out the giant brick of Monterey Jack that’s been living in the fridge and ate a slice… then I took a few bites of Coffee Heath Bar crunch… mulling over what I was in the mood for….

I wanted something creamy. Something that reminded me of childhood… it was settled, I was going to make Tuna Noodle Casserole–which is kind of weird because this wasn’t something that was cooked a lot at my house–no big deal.

Except the thought of cream of mushroom soup nauseates me… not to mention the fact that we don’t keep anything close to that in the house… so I improvised.

This is what I came up with. The thing I love about this meal is that you use one skillet. How easy is that?

I imagine you could probably get away without pre-cooking the noodles. I’ll experiment and let you know.

Tuna Noodle Skillet

Serves ~6. Adapted from Eating Well.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked (I used gobetti, elbows or egg noodles would also work)
  • 2 cans tuna fish, drained  (to give your casserole a little more moist-ness, use the stuff packed in oil). We use Wild Planet.
  • 1/2 cup peas, canned or frozen
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. smokey paprika
  • A few good cranks of black pepper
  • A few splashes Worcestershire sauce
  • About a tbsp. of dill
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped,
  • 1 cup Cremini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock (chicken would also work)
  • Scant 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ~1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ~3/4 cup Monterey Jack, grated
  • A few tbsp. Mazto meal or Bread Crumbs

What to do:

Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. 350-400 is perfect.

In a small bowl, combine tuna fish, peas, mustard, paprika, Worcestershire, pepper and dill. Set aside.

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Prep

Melt butter in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat (a cast-iron skillet is perfect!).

Add in onions, mushrooms, garlic and carrots and cook until softened, about five minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking.

Add in vegetable stock and cook until it’s *almost* all evaporated.

Add in second tablespoon butter and let melt most of the way

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About halfway through flour-sprinkling. Don’t mind my terrible photo.

Sprinkle in flour a little at a time and stir to make sure vegetables are evenly coated.  The mixture will start to resemble a roux/paste.

Add in milk and black pepper (I like to use a lot, but use your best judgment).

Stirring occasionally to ensure that nothing sticks to the pan, bring to a simmer. And try not to slosh milk all over your stove.

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See the sauce starting to thicken?

Stir in tuna-pea mixture.

Stir in half of your cheese.

Let simmer for about three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in noodles and continue to stir for another minute (again, use your judgement here).

Remove from heat.

Sprinkle the last of the cheese and the meal/breadcrumbs over casserole and place in oven. *I actually grated the cheese directly over the pan….in case you’re feeling fancy.*

Broil until cheese is melted and casserole is lightly browned and bubbling.

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This will be a huge hit… whether you are ten or thirty.

Note: Be careful removing skillet from oven…not only is it hot, it’s also going to be HEAVY!

Enjoy!


For the Love of Lentils

Confession time. I absolutely adore lentils. I love them. Not only are they ridiculously good for you, but they are super easy to make. You know those foods that bring back memories? Happier times of childhood? Lentils are one of those foods for me.

I have fond memories of giant pots simmering on the stove and sitting down after a long day of school, practice and farm work to a piping hot bowl of lentil soup. My mom was a traditionalist, she kept the recipe simple but it was always delicious.

As I got older, I found out that there was a whole world of possibilities when it came to lentils. I remember my time in Spain, one of my favorite meals was a lentil stew with chorizo and garlic. During my time in DC, I used that meal as my inspiration for cooking lentils.  I also explored Indian, Latin and Moroccan recipes. I loved it all. Luckily, my husband appreciates lentils as much as I do… and he loves getting creative with them.

These days, I typically stick to a one-pot method, similar to my mother’s but with my own twist. A friend of mine has begged me to divulge the recipe, so, as a gift to you, here it is. I have to say, I am a bit embarrassed because it is stupidly easy. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

What You'll Need

Noelle’s Lentils:

  • 2 cups lentils (I used black belugas, but any kind will do)
  • 32 oz. Thai Culinary Stock (We got it at Wegmans, chicken or vegetable broth will also work)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp.Chili Sauce (I use the husband’s super hot variety. )

*For less spice, you can also use chili flakes/powder and some cumin in place of the chili sauce-a few dashes of each*

Rinse and drain lentils (a lot of times there are small stones/dirt that get in the package, just pick them out).

No words.

Dice onions, garlic and carrot.

In a large pot, add olive oil over medium heat.

Add onions, garlic and carrot. Cook until onions feel soft and are slightly translucent, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the lentils,  Thai stock and the bay leaf, bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat (medium-low will do).

Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I get very impatient, so I stir often and uncover a lot. Try to resist the urge-it saves a lot of time.

Add in your chili sauce after about 20 minutes. Stir it in and re-cover.

Lentils are done when they feel tender and most of the liquid is gone.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of parmesan or with a fried egg and avocado slices (this is my favorite way), also pairs well with rice  or your favorite sausage if you’d like something more hearty.

Enjoy!