A Perfect Dish for Lent
Growing up, my mother often made tuna casserole. She was very inventive with it and the whole family loved it! Later in my life, when I had moved in with my grandmother during the later years of her life, my grandmother would often request that I make this for her. She was vegetarian and this recipe was exactly what she wanted. I’d make it at least once a month and she’d portion it out for the week. The memories of making this for my grandmother stay with me, even after her passing at the age of 100. The lingering aroma of preparing this dish will forever be imprinted in my mind along with the smile on my grandmother’s face when she’d smell it throughout the house. I remember her excitement as I’d serve her at the head of her massive table. Such simple joys that make me smile until this day.
You’ll also find this is a family friendly meal as even my children enjoy the dish! My two year old is ready to eat it before it goes in the oven! Oh, the joys of satisfying a young child (who thinks he is a dinosaur) with a healthy meal!
2 Tbsps. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 – 12 oz cans Starkist Chunk Light Tuna
2 – 12 oz cans Premium Starkist Albacore Tuna
1 red bell pepper chopped into chunky pieces
1 green bell pepper chopped into chunky pieces
1 yellow bell pepper chopped into chunky pieces
3 medium sweet yellow onions chopped into chunky pieces
1 cup of portobello mushrooms sliced or chopped
2 – 10.5 oz cans of Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 ½ cups Blue Plate mayonnaise
4 .oz Cream of Cheese
½ cup Daisy brand sour cream
1 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp granulated garlic powder
2 tsp Creole Seasoning, Tony Chachere’s More Spice is easily found in most stores
1 16 oz Box Pasta of your choice cooked according to directions on package
(my personal favorite is medium shells)
½ cup sliced almonds
If you have a preference for another topping it will work as well. Some prefer crushed Ritz crackers, corn flakes, it’s really what ever you preferences are.
Start with a nice sized pot, I usually just use my 7 quart Dutch oven (also known to some as a Cajun and or Dutch microwave). In reality you could go straight from stovetop to the oven in it, but I usually bake mine in a deep dish 9 x 13 ceramic casserole dish, it’s much prettier when serving.
On a medium to high heat add the olive oil and let it heat for about a minute, then add the already chopped bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Sauté until all vegetables are limp and the onions have a desired see through look.
Preheat oven to 375% and start your choice of pasta in boiling water to be prepared when dish is ready to add pasta, (cook your pasta according to cooking directions on the package). You can drain and rinse pasta and set aside to be added to your dish just before you put it in your casserole dish.
Turn the heat down to just below medium and add your cans of tuna. Heat for about 3 minutes and start adding your cream of mushroom soup, Blue Plate Mayonnaise, cream cheese, and Daisy brand sour cream. Stir occasionally until it starts to bubble and then add your spices and bread crumbs, turn your heat off after completely blended together and it starts to bubble.
Fold in your choice of pasta and transfer to a 9×13 deep dish ceramic casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Place in the oven on the center rack. Cook for 30 minutes, then add the almond slivers to the top and cook for an additional 15 minutes are until the almonds start to turn slightly brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 minutes prior to serving. This service anywhere from 8 to 10 people.