Tuna Noodle Casserole - Redux

January 27, 2011
7 Ratings
Author Notes

For some reason last night I had the sudden realization that tuna noodle casserole - that classic piece of Americana and staple of Midwestern church basement potlucks - is technically a seafood pasta dish. This struck me as hilarious, and I felt I had to submit a recipe. I've updated it, swapping out the canned soup for a homemade sauce with some herbs and laced with sherry. And I recommend using oil packed tuna, which I've only recently discovered, and which has much better texture and flavor. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

This is not your mother's tuna noodle casserole from the sixties! With some simple steps, fiveandspice takes this homey classic into a whole new league. It is hard to imagine how good this really tastes until you just make it. The butter, fresh mushrooms, shallot, fresh herbs, lemon zest, and sherry contribute to this cast of characters to make stars out of tuna noodle. The garlic panko topping adds a dramatic finish. Brilliant. Bravo, fiveandspice! —Sagegreen

  • Serves 4
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced portobello mushrooms
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk (whole)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cans oil packed tuna, drained
  • 8 ounces egg noodles, cooked until al dente and drained
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup panko
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 Tbs. of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have given off all of their liquid and cooked through (10 or so minutes). Season lightly with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add another 1/2 a tablespoon of butter to the frying pan, then cook onion, shallot and celery together for about 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chopped herbs and the sherry and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into this mixture, then set this aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the milk and chicken stock, bit by bit, to make a smooth sauce. Cook, stirring, until just slightly thickened (another minute or two). Then add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Flake the tuna and combine the tuna, the white sauce, the mushroom-onion mixture, and the noodles all together. Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking pan and transfer the casserole mixture into it.
  5. In a small pan, melt the last tablespoon of butter. Stir in the minced garlic and the panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until the panko is golden brown. Sprinkle this all over the casserole. Put the casserole in the oven and bake until it is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve! (And if you are in a church basement, you might have to throw together a reduxed jello salad as well!)

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.