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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuna Noodle (& Veggie) Casserole

Love, love, love comfort food when the weather changes to fall.  Wait for it all summer long.  Tuna noodle casserole was always a fav but having more of a healthy conscience.. it needed a major update.  Made this way, it comes out way better with a white sauce base and plenty of fresh sauted veggies.  No killer (literally) canned soups here.  Just good, whole  ingredients that will actually decrease your risk of cancers and other nasties rather than increase them.   
But don't think that by healthy.. you will skimp on taste and all around deliciousness.. this is not low-cal.. it simply is whole food ingredients that combine to make a comfort food at it's best meal.  Loaded with 4 cups of sauted mushrooms, onions, celery and peas... After that it varies, depending on what's on hand and fresh..zucchini, broccoli, spinach, butternut squash.. but today in this casserole I added fresh chopped broccoli and shredded carrots. 
Mushrooms have been on my radar lately.  Read this article here and this one there. And that is just two. 
Ordinary white button mushrooms are used to treat cancer and metabolic disease at the City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles. Lion's Mane mushroom, available in growing kits, supplements, and growing wild in the US, is proving an effective treatment for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Shiitake mushrooms contain no natural Vitamin D2, but when exposed to sunlight with the gills down develop 11,000 IU/100g, with the gills up: 46,000 IU/100g.
These were only a few of the discoveries and research reports on nutritional and medicinal properties of mushrooms presented at the ISMS Conference in Beijing, August 26-30.
Now I am trying to incorporate some mushrooms each day into our diet.  This recipe makes that easy.  This is a great dish to bring to someone who is a bit under the weather.

Tuna Noodle Casserole 

2-3 T. unsalted butter
1-2 medium to large onions, finely chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (4 cups)
2 t. soy sauce
1/4 c. White Wine (a dry chardonnay is perfect here)
1 package frozen peas
1 c. fresh broccoli florets, chopped
1 c. shredded carrots (large shred on the cuisinart or box grater works well here)
3 T. butter
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. whole milk (or 2%.. just not fat free)
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. salt
fresh cracked pepper
2 (6-oz) canned tuna in olive oil, drained
8 oz dried curly egg noodles (preferably Pennsylvania Dutch style; about 3 1/4 cups) or fusilli
1 1/2 c. coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm sandwich bread)
large handful of fresh parsley, chopped 
1 T. Lemon zest
4 oz coarsely grated Cheddar (1 cup)
1 T. olive oil
1.  Preheat oven to 375º  Butter a shallow 2 quart baking dish, set aside. 

2.  Cook noodles according to package directions, drain and toss with enough olive oil, so they don't stick together in a mass.  Set aside til ready.

3.  Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed large sauté pan over med-high heat, melt butter.  Add onions and celery and sauté til tender. (about 5 min.)

4.  Add mushrooms and saute a couple minutes til they give off liquid. (about 2-3 min.)

5.  Stir in soy sauce and chardonnay, stirring and cook til evaporated. (about 1-2 min.)  

6.  Stir in frozen peas, broccoli and carrots. (and any other veggies if you are adding them) Set aside.  

7.  In another sauce pan, melt 3 T. butter and whisk in flour to make a roux. Whisking, let cook for 2 minutes.   Add broth slowly, constantly whisking.  Add milk and whisk til smooth, let simmer about 5 minutes til thickened.  

8.  Pour sauce over vegetable mixture, stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Flake tuna in and 2 T. fresh chopped parsley. 

9.  Pour into casserole dish. 

10.  In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, parsley, lemon zest, cheddar cheese and olive oil.  Sprinkle over top.  

11. Bake for 20-30 minutes til toasty brown and casserole is bubbly.    

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