Flipping through my ancient 4-H book the other day, I was reminded that I cooked a lot for my family when I was growing up. Then, like now, I obviously had something going on during the daytime and preferred easy-to-throw-together dinners that were filling and didn’t create a ton of dishes.
One of my much revisited dinners was tuna casserole. I tweaked it until I had a dish with more flavor than most of the traditional recipes but was still a crowd pleaser. (Always a must.)
Lately, I’ve been craving comfort food, and when I ran across a couple of packages of albacore tuna while rummaging around in the pantry, I knew what comfort food to focus on.
My only new considerations were that it needed to have a lot more vegetables in it than when I was concocting this dish as a child, and it needed to utilize the rather staggering collection of goat cheese I had amassed within the glowing cavern that is our refrigerator. The Frankensteinian creation that resulted was pretty tasty, but I think it could stand a bit more tweaking. Feel free to change the list of ingredients to what most appeals to your taste buds.
Grown Up Tuna Casserole
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
16 oz whole wheat shell pasta
1 Tablespoon ghee
4 fire roasted peppers in oil, chopped
2.4 oz jar of capers, drained
pinch of dried dill
2 cups baby spinach
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
24 oz organic cream of mushroom soup
10 oz organic mixed mushrooms
salt & pepper to taste
6 oz albacore tuna
2 cups cheese (I used a combination of goat cheeses: drunken goat, capra bianca, and laychee)
Italian Herb Panko
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put a pot of water on to boil. Cook pasta to package directions.
While waiting for water to boil, saute onion and garlic in a medium pan with the ghee until onions are translucent and beginning to brown. Lower heat and add peppers and capers. Stir until everything has warmed through and flavors have had a chance to commingle. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, cook the mushrooms until tender, but not to the point that all moisture has evaporated from the pan.
Once pasta has cooked, dump all of the ingredients into the pot, reserving a half cup of cheese. Stir everything together until cheese has melted. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and follow with a layer of Panko.
Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove lid and bake for ten more minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before serving.
The following day, I added some smoked tuna to the leftovers. It was the perfect addition, helping all of the flavors to blend together just right. It was quite the Goldilocks moment.