When writing tuna recipes at some point you figure that you really need to do something traditional. Something that people think of when they think of tuna. Comfort food. Yep, you guessed it… Tuna Noodle Casserole.
But, I didn’t want gloppy cream of mushroom soup with tuna. No. And, no chips on top; no crumbled Ritz; no crispy stuff. I want fresh. I want tasty. I want real. Did I mention tasty?!?!
I did a little research and found a recipe that was originally from Bon Appetit Magazine. I found the recipe through The Bitten Word, where they said, “ the Eliza Doolittle-fication of this dish is a huge success.”
They’re right. This is a sophisticated casserole. One that tastes like you took some time and put some love into it. I (of course) changed the recipe a bit. I wanted to use the Island Trollers Smoked Alder Pacific Albacore. And, I wanted to bump up that smokiness so I used smoked Fontina cheese.
Really, I can explain this in one word, yum! It’s exactly what I wanted: comfort food that’s fresh and real with whole ingredients. One that is good enough for Island Trollers Wild Pacific Albacore.
Island Trollers Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Thyme
Makes 6 servings
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon ground celery seeds
Coarse kosher salt
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
½ cup half & half
8 ounces wide egg noodles
½ cup coarsely grated Smoked Fontina cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 7-ounce can Island Trollers Smoked Alder albacore tuna, undrained
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
Butter 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and ground celery seeds to saucepan; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually add milk and half and half; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season leek sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles, reserving ¾ cup noodle cooking liquid. Transfer noodles to large bowl.
Pour leek sauce over noodles. Add grated Fontina cheese and thyme and stir to blend; Fold in tuna, breaking apart any large chunks. Fold in peas.
If necessary, add reserved noodle cooking liquid one tablespoon at a time, until mixture is moist and creamy. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover with foil and keep refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake noodle casserole, covered with foil, until heated through, about 20 minutes if freshly made or 30 minutes if chilled. Remove foil. Continue to bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 10 minutes longer. Serve hot. Enjoy!
P.S. My father-in-law says that the true test of a good dish is the leftovers. If the leftovers are good cold, then the dish is great! And, I can say with full certainty that this was great straight out of the fridge. I was going to heat it up, but by the time I got through taste testing, the leftover were all gone.