Old-fashioned tuna noodle casserole takes on a new dimension with velvety sauce, chunky albacore, and a crispy topping. Mix pale yellow imported tagliatelle with moist, pink flakes of tuna. Add a clove-studded onion to simmer in the white sauce, and make the bread crumb topping from thick slices of stale, rough-textured sourdough. When you’re expecting guests and not sure when they’ll arrive, make this in advance, and slip it into the oven when they call from the road.
|Butter (for the dish)|
|1||small onion, stuck with 2 whole cloves|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|3||stalks celery, chopped|
|1||cup frozen green peas, rinsed with cold water|
|2||cans (7 ounces each) albacore tuna, drained and flaked into large pieces|
|1||cup bread crumbs|
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. In saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking constantly for 2 minutes.
3. Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and discard the onion (rinse it and use it to make soup).
4. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles for 8 minutes or until they are tender but still have some bite. Drain into a colander; do not rinse.
5. Meanwhile, in another saucepan fitted with a steamer insert and several inches of boiling water, cover and steam the carrots and celery for 5 minutes or until tender.
6. In the baking dish, add a generous spoonful of the sauce. Add half the pasta, half the carrot mixture, half the peas, half the tuna, and half the remaining sauce. Make another layer of pasta, vegetables, tuna, and sauce. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
7. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes or until it is bubbling at the edges and the crumbs are golden. Let the casserole sit for 10 minutes to settle.