Tuna Noodle Casserole with Cheddar-Panko Crust
- ACTIVE: 40 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 6 to 8
To create a rich, creamy casserole base in less time than a béchamel sauce, Melissa Rubel ingeniously melts cream cheese into warm milk. The result is a thick, creamy sauce that is perfect for binding the noodles with the tuna and vegetables and is elevated a step above canned condensed soup.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 pound white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped thyme
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 pound cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Two 7.5 ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound wide egg noodles
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 3/4 cups)
- 3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the milk and cream cheese and cook until a smooth, thick sauce forms, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce and gently fold in the tuna and the peas. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the egg noodles until al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse under cool water. Add the noodles and 1 cup of the cheddar to the sauce and mix until the noodles are well coated. Spread the noodles in a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.
- In a small bowl, toss the panko with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the remaining 3/4 cup of cheddar and sprinkle over the noodles. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the noodles are piping hot and the casserole is golden on top.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.