Mediterranean Tuna Casserole

You can find cans of tuna fish in just about every pantry, including mine. I have a few favorite recipes for tuna. I make a tuna salad with bib lettuce, tuna and pineapple chunks. Tuna Melt with a white sauce, peas and served over toasted bread.

Because I’ve been writing about Gourmet Pantry Cooking, I wanted to come up with a more glamorous version of the time-honored standby of Tuna Casserole. I haven’t made a Tuna Casserole in years. Tuna Casserole is not my favorite dish as it tends to be predictable and boring. In addition, most recipes include ingredients that I try to avoid: like canned mushroom soup and crumbled potato chips. After searching the internet for ideas, I came up with a gourmet version of this money-saving family recipe.

As with most casseroles, you can adjust the ingredients to what you have on hand. For instance, if you don’t have a red bell pepper, substitute a bell pepper of another color. Or substitute sun dried tomatoes or even cherry tomatoes from your garden. If you’re out of milk, use coconut milk, coconut water, almond or rice milk. No scallions in the house? Use a small chopped yellow onion or the dried variety (a must-have item in every pantry).

Mediterranean Tuna Casserole

You’ll Need:
¼ cup coconut or olive oil, plus more for baking dish
12 ounces wide noodles
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
¼ cup flour or arrowroot powder
2 cups whole milk
2 cans (7 ounces each) tuna packed in water, drained
1 cup drained and sliced artichoke hearts
1 (6 ounce) can whole Kalamata or black olives, drained
6 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil an 10X13-inch baking dish. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles about 5 minutes until firm; drain and return to pot.

2. Meanwhile, in a heavy pot or skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper; season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.

3. Remove from heat; add mixture to cooked noodles in pot, along with tuna, artichoke hearts, black olives and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Pour into oiled baking dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

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