Tuna Noodle Casserole (From Scratch!)
Did you grow up in a casserole house? I feel like most people fall into two categories – those that grew up eating casseroles, and those that didn’t. I fell into the “did not” category; my mom may have made a couple here or there, but I don’t really remember ever eating them. Once I had moved out on my own after college, I fell hard for casseroles. They were so easy! Just some rice or pasta, a can or two of condensed soup, and maybe a bag of frozen vegetables. Dinner, just like that!
However, once I started really getting into cooking, I began shying away from the canned soup and prepackaged mixes. I discovered that turkey tetrazzini is one of my absolute favorite meals, and that old holiday favorites like green bean casserole and broccoli casserole can be infinitely improved with fresh ingredients.
I honestly am not sure that I’ve ever had tuna noodle casserole before. Crazy, right?! My Chief Culinary Consultant said that his mom used to make it all the time, and I figured it would be a perfect lunch for a Friday during Lent.
I’ve always been a fan of tuna, sometimes eating a can of it for lunch during college, so I was excited to finally make this iconic casserole. Aside from some crushed potato chips on top, this is made completely from scratch and it’s unbelievable. It’s creamy, cheesy, and has tons of flavor from a variety of vegetables and the marinated tuna.
I feel like my life is complete now that I’ve made and eaten tuna noodle casserole.
It’s definitely going to be on the regular rotation here, and don’t look now, but I might be turning this into a casserole house!
Tuna Noodle Casserole
A delicious version of an old classic.
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 cup), divided
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup), divided
2 cups potato chips, crushed
2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1½ tablespoons salt, divided
1¼ teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
3 (5-ounce) cans solid white albacore tuna packed in water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
12 ounces egg noodles
10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3½ cups half-and-half
1½ cups chicken broth
1½ cups frozen peas
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses in a bowl. Pulse the potato chips, bread, ¼ cup cheese mixture, 2 tablespoons butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in food processor until coarsely ground, about 8 pulses; set aside.
2. Place the tuna in a fine-mesh strainer and press dry with paper towels. Transfer to a large bowl and flake into coarse pieces with a fork. Microwave the oil, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in small bowl for about 30 seconds. Stir the oil mixture into the tuna and set aside.
3. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water until cool, about 2 minutes. Drain again and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in now-empty pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with tuna mixture. Add 1 tablespoon butter, the onion, and bell pepper to now-empty pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with tuna-mushroom mixture; set aside.
4. In now-empty pot, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in half-and-half and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Off heat, whisk in remaining cheese mixture until smooth. Stir in pasta, tuna-vegetable mixture, peas, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
5. Transfer the mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish and top with bread-crumb mixture. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Let casserole cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note: The casserole can be refrigerated without topping, covered in plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours. Increase the baking time to 25 minutes, adding the topping halfway through baking.