This casserole has seriously become one of my favorite casseroles of all time. It is inexpensive (hello, canned tuna) and sooooo very tasty!
It came from my desire to revamp some of the recipes from my childhood. Everyone's Mom used Cream of Mushroom soup for just about every casserole they made right? You know I have an issue with that just because you lose control of the sodium and fat content of your dish. No I am not a control freak, OK well maybe just a little, but mostly I don't like hidden anything in my meals. By using fresh mushrooms and making a bechamel sauce you have a "cream of mushroom" feel but it is so much healthier.
The other thing I love about this recipe is you can pretty much throw any veggies at it you like. Have some leftover broccoli or red bell pepper? Go for it! Artichoke hearts would be awesome in this as well. You can also change up the cheese you use. Also, I used panko bread crumbs for the topping of mine but I know many people use crushed up potato chips. I read a little blurb in one of my food magazines about using salt and vinegar chips on top. I didn't do it but it sure sounds good!
Other great things about this recipe, you can make this ahead and keep it in the fridge until the night you want to make it. Take it out to warm up at room temp while you are preheating your oven, pop it in and away you go. The only thing I would change if you make it ahead is do your bread crumbs the night you bake the casserole so they stay nice and crunchy. Also this reheats wonderfully and tastes just as good the next day!
Not Your Momma's Tuna Casserole
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a casserole dish with non stick spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and the noodles. Cook as package directs for al dente. Drain and return the noodles to the pot.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add butter. Once the butter is melted, add your onions, celery, and garlic, cook until soft, about 5 mins. Raise the heat to medium-high and add your mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms begin to brown and release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add mixture to the pot with the noodles
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for a couple of minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue to cook about 5 minutes, until sauce is smooth. Add some freshly ground nutmeg (just a bit) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tuna and peas. Pour into pot with the noodles and mushroom mixture. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the shredded cheese
In a small sauce pan or skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the bread crumbs and cook just till they begin to brown. Remove from heat. Sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs over the top of the casserole.
Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbly.