Friday, March 22, 2013

Tuna Casserole Over the Top

I did not grow up in a family where casseroles were served for family dinners.  My mother was a cook in a restaurant, and a casserole was something she just did not make.  So, after I married, I followed that tradition almost exclusively.  I do recall once in a while, that I would make the typical Tuna Casserole with noodles, tuna, canned peas and the dreaded Cream of Mushroom Soup.  I suppose I topped it with crushed potato chips.  You have to think 1970's here.  I really don't remember if our daughters would eat it or not.  I am guessing no, because they never did get into enjoying eating fish like we do.  I just did not make it that often.  In other words, it just did not appeal to anyone that much. 

So, when this week I saw my friend, Eileen who writes the blog Living Tastefully-Passions to Pastry, had a tuna casserole recipe that she found from another blog, it just sounded delicious.  Eileen grew up in the small villages where I did in the Amana Colonies in Iowa.  I did not know her as well as her older sister (Eileen is a lot younger than me), but I find her blog and her expertise in the kitchen amazing.  In fact, when Eileen said she made this tuna casserole twice in one week, I knew I had to try it.

In fact, I have been reading a lot on blogs recently about getting rid of the old Cream of Mushroom Soup and making your own mushroom sauce.  Yes, it was a little putzing in the kitchen to get this all together, but I find it was so worth it.  If the Trout had been home earlier, he could have done all the chopping for me which always helps tremendously.

I have to say, even though I changed a few things because of what I had on hand, this casserole tasted perfect.

I will definitely keep this recipe handy and would even serve this to company.  It was that good!!!

So, coming from someone who does not make casseroles, I would say this is quite an endorsement.

The recipe follows.

Grown-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

Serve 8

Butter to grease 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole (I used a 9 x 13 pan)
12 ounces pasta (whatever you like) ( I used penne which I had on hand)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1/3 cup minced shallots
4 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 1% plus heavy cream to get the right amount)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons capers, drained
2-5 ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained (I used two 7 ounce cans from Costco)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup thinly sliced kale or spinach (I used spinach)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme (I used 2 heavy teaspoons of thyme out of my garden)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
I heavy grind of fresh pepper corns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the casserole dish and set aside.

Cook the pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling water.  Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook for about 5 minutes or until shallots are translucent and mushrooms are beginning to soften.  Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.  Slowly pour in the wine, lower the heat and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the flour to the pan and stir well to ensure all the mushrooms are coated.  Increase the heat to high and slowly pour in the milk, bringing the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the milk begins to thicken and starts to look more like a sauce.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, capers, tuna, sour cream, kale or spinach, thyme, salt and pepper.  Pour the creamy mushroom sauce into the bowl and stir to coat all ingredients.  Transfer to prepared casserole and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Sprinkle in the breadcrumbs and cook until fragrant and slightly toasty.  Sprinkle the crispy breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped parsley on top.  Serve.  Cover and refrigerate the leftovers for up to 3 days.  The casserole also freezes beautifully. 


  1. Sounds so good. I'm sure NOT using the cream of mushroom soup makes a world of difference.

  2. So funny you posted this, Susan! I've been thinking of tuna casserole lately... a lot. LOL! I made tons of it EARLY in my homemaker days when the budget was tight. THANK YOU!! I know this one will be much better than the one I would have made and thought, "it used to be better than this." LOL! Have a wonderful weekend! blessings ~ tanna

  3. I love your idea of grown-up tuna noodle casserole. I admit to making the original one in the seventies when I was alone & tried after work and my husband was traveling. I've tried making my own sauce a couple of times, but it's been a long time. Will definitely give this a try with your fabulous endorsement Susan.

  4. My mother liked casseroles so we grew up on them and they are still some of my favorite comfort foods. If I'm in the mood for the dish I don't even mind the canned soup. This recipe takes the everyday dish to new heights, Susan. I know my family would love it. Can't wait to try it.

  5. This casserole sounds very good, Susan! My mother rarely made casseroles and I had never had tuna and noodle casserole until my MIL made it. I like your "gussied up" version and know Bill would love it. Have a good weekend!

  6. Sounds very good Susan and the second tuna casserole post I've seen in the last week or so - maybe it's making a comeback.

  7. Sounds brilliant to me, we love fish casseroles. As a matter of note I do not think I have ever put a tin of soup in a casserole! Have a good week, Diane

  8. It looks amazing . . . Sadly I'm not a fan of hot tuna . . . Don't know why . . .

  9. My own made up 70's recipe - Tuna, pasta and broccoli bake. Pour over cheese sauce and top with grated cheese before baking. A bake here though. A casserole always has a lid on it.

  10. Tuna casserole is one of my guilty pleasures :) This sounds like such a delicious rendition of a favorite! What a wonderful list of ingredients. Certainly a 'Must Try'.

  11. Popping in to see what's cooking over here, it's always good!

    Happy Easter guys...may your weekend be filled with blessings!

    Miss you both!

  12. The hubby loves tuna casserole, but I hate using the uber salty cream of mushroom soup. I will definitely try this winner. Happy Easter, Susan!!