Warm, comforting, fast and easy, this is the Very Best Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe around. Carrots, peas and tuna are blended with a creamy sauce then cooked with noodles before being topped with a buttery, crispy crust. Comfort food season is here.
I cook all day. All day long. I love it but by the time dinner rolls around I’m pooped. Like seriously, it takes every ounce of willpower to make myself cook something for dinner. A lot of the time, I make dinner for a post…take the pictures and attempt to wrap it up for later. But every once in awhile, the family is hovering like vultures and it ends up being lunch. So, then they’re asking me what’s for dinner when they, literally, just ate my dinner plans. I hate those days. This Tuna Noodle Casserole…this was one of those days.
My day starts with cleaning the kitchen….I clean the kitchen before I can start working. I feel like if there’s a crumb on the floor or a dish in the sink…it throws off my creative juices. And since I’m so tired the night before after cooking all day, then made dinner, THEN had to clean up…sometimes….I just wipe the crumbs on the floor. Sometimes, I jam the giant pots into the dishwasher because I’m too lazy to hand wash them. Sometimes….just sometimes….I’ll toss ALL the leftovers into the trash because all the storage containers are in the fridge with leftovers from 3 weeks or 6 months ago. That’s real life. So, the next day…I get to clean it all up if my lazy self left a mess for my morning self. Good thing I’m a morning person.
So, one day…I had a plan set for the day and laziness carried over from the previous day in the form of crumbs, dirty dishes and a heaping trash bag that needed to go out. Everything I planned to make that day was going to require a lot of effort…no amount of coffee was going to get my rear in gear to get everything I needed done within a reasonable time. And then there’s the matter of dinner. I decided to whip up something I’ve been meaning to make for years…..Tuna Noodle Casserole. It was never a favorite of mine growing up. In fact, I visited a friend and was invited for dinner….I nearly gagged at the table when dinner was served. Tuna Noodle Casserole…emphasis on the tuna….lots of tuna….lots of very odorous tuna. I was scarred. Until now.
I am now a convert…as I usually am when I tackle an off-putting recipe from my past. This is THE Very Best Tuna Noodle Casserole. I had a reader request more one pot dinners after trying this Cheeseburger Macaroni and this Tuna Noodle Casserole deserves a place in the weekly rotation. The prep is very similar to this skillet pot pie but instead off using a pie crust to cover your casserole, I used a buttery blend of….well, butter…and panko bread crumbs. Everything cooks in just one skillet so clean up is a breeze…even the noodles, like I did with this taco pasta.
The very best Tuna Noodle Casserole is not overly fishy either because I drain the heck out of the tuna. Be sure to use tuna packed in water and drain that fish until it’s almost dry. You don’t need all that canned water floating around turning your dish into a smelly fish tank. That’s not good eats. And make sure you break up the tuna very well with a fork, there should be no large chunks left. You want it all to blend into the creamy, cheesy sauce and wrap itself up in the noodles like a warm carby blanket. Now THAT is good eats. Serve with a salad and you have one hearty, comforting weeknight dinner with hardly any dishes to clean.
The Very Best Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 6 ounces wide egg noodles
- 1 5 ounce can water packed tuna, drained and flaked
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook until softened, approximately 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots and celery. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Sprinkle the cornstarch over the vegetables and toss to coat thoroughly.
- Slowly stir in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.
- Turn the heat to low and stir in the half and half, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper, peas, noodles and tuna.
- Allow the casserole to simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes until the noodles begin to soften.
- Stir in the cheese.
- In a small bowl, toss the butter with the panko and then sprinkle the mixture over the casserole.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
- Serve immediately.