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I always thought I didn’t like tuna noodle casserole until college. We had a wonderful southern cook for a few weeks who introduced me to this delicious variation on mac and cheese. I like to think the tuna gives it more nutritional value, but this dish is not about being healthy. I go to this when I’m in need of some cheesy comfort food, like I was this week. The creamy, cheesy sauce along with the flavorful mushrooms and crunchy crust on top make this one of my favorites. There’s truly nothing better.

I like to use Italian tuna in olive oil– it’s generally about twice as expensive as the American kind, but it’s so much more tasty. And the texture is more like actual fish. Try it if you haven’t, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

1/2 box small pasta such as egg noodles, mini ziti, mini shells, etc

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

1/4 cup Marsala wine or white wine

1 jar or can tuna in oil with oil drained out

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

1 cup cheddar, grated

1 cup parmesan, grated

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

truffle butter (optional)

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to box instructions but stop about 5 minutes early and drain.

Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil until they have softened. Add the rosemary and toss through. Add the wine and continue to cook for 2 minutes.

Combine the flour and butter in a separate pan and cook until the paste starts to brown. Add the milk and whisk so that there are no lumps. Add the chicken stock and whisk again. Add the mushroom mixture, the tuna, nutmeg, and about 3/4 of the cheeses. Reserve the rest of the cheese and combine with the breadcrumbs in another bowl.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir through. Pour into a baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs mixture. If you have some truffle butter, you can dot the top with little bits of it. You may want to reserve it and add before serving as well. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until it starts to get bubbly and browned on top.

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