Prawn season is practically a reason in itself to plan a trip to the Oregon Coast. Besides, I’m down to my last can of tuna.
What is the great urgency? My family only eats one tuna: sustainably caught Oregon albacore packaged by Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston. Once you taste it, especially the olive oil variety, no other brand will do.
I had rationed the last cans, but my kids begged for boxed macaroni and cheese this week. My concession to a healthier meal added tuna and peas, which they heartily agreed to.
Lest you judge, understand that these are Annie’s brand shells and white cheddar, widely considered by food writers to be the tastiest canned macaroni and cheese on the market. Filled with chuck tuna and frozen peas, it hardly looks like anything out of a can. Serve it with some fried onions or mashed potatoes on top, and it’s a lookalike of the classic tuna casserole.
My kids are also fans of the casserole, and I love that it accommodates just about any noodle, as well as leeks, broccoli, or even green beans. No crisps? Use panko or crushed cornflakes. I forgo canned soup in my recipe, but this Pittsburgh Post Gazette version was developed with pantry staples in mind.
Tribune News Photo service
Tuna casserole with elbow macaroni
8 ounces (about 2 cups) medium egg noodles or elbow noodles, cooked and drained
1 can condensed mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk or chicken broth
2 cans (about 5 ounces each) tuna in water, drained
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 celery stalk, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Large handful of potato chips, crushed
Smoked paprika, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F and position the rack in the center of the oven.
Coat a 9×13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
Cook noodles in boiling salted water until al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse the noodles in cold water to prevent them from cooking.
Pour the noodles into a large bowl and add the soup, milk or broth, tuna, peas and cheese. Mix to combine.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add onion and celery and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the thyme and continue cooking until the onion and celery are translucent, about 2 minutes more.
Pour the vegetables over the tuna and noodle mixture in a bowl and toss to combine. Immediately pour into the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle the mashed potato chips evenly over the pan. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave and drizzle over it. Sprinkle with smoked paprika, if desired.
Bake, uncovered, until pan is bubbly and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve very hot.
Makes 4-6 servings.