Not Yo Grandma's Gourmet Tuna Noodle Casserole

By now, all men have already stopped reading. The women are reading with curiosity tinged with disdain- gourmet tuna noodle casserole? An oxymoron if they have ever heard of one. But let me tell you, it is possible. Using fresh portabello and button mushrooms, a home-made buttery bechamel sauce (no gluey canned cream of mushroom soup here!), lots of good cheese and good tuna (you know the kind packed in olive oil, not the anemic stuff drowning in water) makes for a scrumptious and GOURMET tuna casserole albeit one my father would still never touch. I grew up hearing the story of my father's first meeting with his in -laws which included my very America grandmother serving my father (who had only eaten the finest Hungarian food growing up) tuna noodle casserole. He has been scarred ever since and can't look at the stuff.

Now, when it comes to baked pastas I firmly believe there should be some sort of crust.  Whether it be lots of cheese that forms its own crust on the top or a crunchy cheesey bread crumb topping, or potato chips (gasp! but I have been known to use that on top of tuna casseroles and its deeelish) the contrast of creamy and crunchy is crucial. In that vein, I decided to go a different route, topping my casserole with french fried onions (which as you know are delicious in their own right) and the combination is ridiculously good. You can make your own or just use the bagged kind, either way would be divine. Make this, tell your manly man that its just creamy mushroom pasta (omitting the word casserole and tuna is crucial) and watch him devour it. I for one will have to try it on my father sometime soon. Enjoy!

1 lb short pasta ( I like medium shells but rotini, penne or elbows would work)
3/4 cup frozen green peas
1 Tbl butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used baby bella and white button), chopped
2 Tbl white wine
2 cans good quality Italian tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked (or you can use regular tuna in water but it will be less flavorful)
5 Tbl butter
5 Tbl flour
4 cups milk
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups French Fried Onions

Boil pasta in salted water- 2 minutes before the pasta is ready add the frozen peas- continue cooking until the pasta is raed and then  drain. Saute the onion, celery and garlic in 1 Tbl of butter until the onion softens. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook another two minutes. Add the wine and cook until most of the liquid has cooked out of the pan. In a sauce pan melt the 5 Tbl butter. Once melted add the flour and whisk constantly until it gets light golden brown. Raise the heat and add the milk. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the pasta with the milk mixture and mushroom mixture and add in the two cans of tuna, most of the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan cheese. Pour into a buttered or sprayed pan and top with a little more mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the onions on top and press in a little so they stick to the cheese when cooked. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
a glimpse of the creamy, mushroomy inside...


  1. Mmmmmmmmm! Looks amazing. And, I even loved the old version too!

  2. hey fagie! just made this for lunch and it smells amazing. can't wait to dig in. tried to make it a little lighter since i'm on weight watchers. Got it down to 9 points per serving if serving 8.

  3. do u use freshly grated parmesan or the bottled?


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