Wildly unpopular yet especially delicious, homemade tuna noodle casserole deserves a spot in your dinner rotation. This from-scratch recipe has no cream of mushroom soup and perhaps more importantly, no peas!
I know. This week it’s all about turkey, and I show up with tuna.
What can I say? I wanted comfort food, so tuna noodle casserole it is!
The little girl who was always slightly appalled when “tuna wiggle” would show up on the lunchroom menu is wondering about the adult she’s become right now.
But seriously. Tuna WIGGLE? Was the tuna still swimming around in there? What was a reasonable child to think?! Unless it’s Jell-o leave the wiggle out of it, thank you very much.
After that delightful introduction, let me make a few suggestions as to why you should actually make tuna noodle casserole from scratch.
First, there is no cream of mushroom soup. Instead, you saute the mushrooms with some onion and white wine (broth is a fine substitute) and combine them with an easy roux.
An added bonus? It has no peas. You can add them if you want to, of course, but this tuna noodle casserole is pea-free. The leftovers also hold up well for anyone out there who thinks one day of tuna noodle casserole is simply not enough!
That’s the good stuff. The bad stuff is that for all the seemingly ease of a casserole – just mix it together and bake – this recipe does require a few steps…and therefore a few pots before it hits the oven. So maybe save this one for a weekend meal.
A funny little story about this recipe. Most of my recipes come from cookbooks I check out at the library. When I see something I like, I make a copy and file it away in a binder. Just a bunch of nondescript, black and white copies, all dutifully and painstakingly organized waiting to become a meal.
I’ve had this tuna noodle casserole filed away for years. As I was writing it out here, I realized it was from Kitchen Confidence by Kelsey Nixon. Kelsey Nixon who I just saw speak at Tastemaker Conference back in September.
She was a delight, so it was a fun surprise to realize I made something from one of her cookbooks. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Even if it’s tuna. Sans the wiggle. Enjoy!
Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole
Yield 6-8 servings
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10 ounces water-packed tuna, drained
salt and pepper
8 ounces dried (roughly 3 cups) egg noodles
1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
optional garnish: parsley
- Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and saute a few minutes until softened, then add the mushrooms and cook for another two minutes.
- Stir in the wine and continue to cook until most of the moisture is evaporated. This will take about another five minutes.
- Next, get two additional pots ready. On one stove burner, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. On another, melt four tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.
- In the saucepan of melted better, add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about two minutes. You want to roux to bubble a bit, but you don't want it to brown.
- Continue whisking constantly and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
- Now whisk in the milk, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until thickened. This too will take about five minutes.
- Add the cooked onion and mushroom mixture to the saucepan, then stir in the lemon juice and tuna. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Return your attention to the large pot of boiling water that should now be boiling. Drop in the egg noodles and cook to soften them slightly, only two to three minutes.
- Drain the noodles, return them to the pot, and pour the mushroom and tuna mixture from the saucepan into the pot. Stir gently to coat the noodles.
- Transfer the mixture to a lightly buttered two-quart baking dish (a 9 x 13 dish should work).
- In a small bowl, stir together the shredded cheddar and panko bread crumbs.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and drizzle this over the cheddar and bread crumbs. Stir gently to coat, then spread over the top of the casserole.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. The sauce will be bubbling and the topping will be crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. If desired, garnish with parsley.
I used portabella mushrooms, but you could also use white mushrooms.
If you don't want to crack open a bottle of white wine to serve alongside this classy casserole, you can use 1/4 cup of broth instead.
If you're just dying to add peas to this casserole, the original recipe suggested adding one cup of thawed frozen peas to the pot of boiling water with the noodles. Add the noodles first and let them cook for a minute or two, then add the peas and boil them all together for a minute more.
Cuisine Comfort food
PS – If anyone is interested, there’s a fun little read about the history of tuna noodle casserole over on Taste.