Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna and noodle casserole is one of those dishes that can be… let’s face it… boring.  However, I think this version of the classic recipe is punched up a bit by the red peppers and artichokes.  It’s also quite versatile, so feel free to make it your own.  I can imagine the addition of several different ingredients (such as Kalamata olives!) that would further enhance this dish.

Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole One of the best things about this tuna noodle casserole is that it makes enough for two 4-serving casseroles or one big, 8-serving casserole.  It freezes quite well, so I like to make the whole recipe and have one on hand for a future dinner.

The Lineup

Begin by making the sauce.  It may seem like a lot of oil to cook the peppers in, but you will be using this as the fat for the base of your sauce.  The process for making the sauce is very similar to that of my macaroni and cheese recipe, so if you would like pictures of the steps along the way, I suggest you check out that post.

Peppers

Next, add the flour and give it a good stir.  Let it cook for about a minute so the flour is no longer raw.

With Flour

Gradually add the milk a little at a time.  Mix it really well between additions to make sure there are no lumps in the sauce.  You may even need to whisk it to get the flour fully combined.  Let it simmer for awhile, until thickened.

Before Simmering

After Simmering

Cook the noodles according to the package, but drain them just shy of al-dente.  They will finish cooking later in the oven in the sauce.

Now, you can combine it all together and divide it among the serving dishes.  Top with Parmesan cheese.

Artichokes, Green Onions, Tuna

Mixed

Before Cheese

At this point, if you are going to freeze one (or both) of the casseroles, you will let them cool to room temperature and then cover with aluminum foil.  They will keep frozen for up to three months.  (I have directions in the recipe summary below for how to bake them from frozen or thawed)

After a 20 minute stint in the oven, you’re ready to dig in!

Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole

Yield: 8 generous servings

1/3 cup (extra virgin) olive oil
5 heaping cups uncooked wide egg noodles
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
3 2.6 oz pouches (or 3 6-oz cans, drained) tuna (in oil or water)
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 13"x9" pan or two 8" square pans. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add peppers, season with salt and pepper, and saute until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add flour, and cook and stir about 1 minute. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring well after each addition to avoid lumps. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens slightly.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes short of recommended cooking time. Drain and set aside.

After sauce has simmered and noodles are cooked, add both to a large bowl along with artichokes, green onions, and tuna. Pour into serving dish(es). Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

To Freeze: Prepare up until baking. Let cool to room temperature and cover with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To bake from frozen, bake covered at 400 degrees F for 2 hours. Uncover, and bake another 20 minutes. To bake from thawed (overnight in refrigerator), bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 20 minutes.

http://www.everydayhomecook.com/2011/04/mediterranean-tuna-noodle-casserole/

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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