Not Your Mom's Tuna Casserole
1 bag (12 ounces) egg noodles
1 can (16 ounces) oil‑packed tuna
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed and drained
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 large celery rib, finely diced (about ½ cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
2 cups whole milk
1½ cups panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and position the oven rack in the middle position. Coat a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Cook the noodles in salted water until al dente according to the package directions. Drain and rinse the noodles under cool water to stop them from cooking. Once cooled, pour the noodles into a large bowl and add the tuna, peas, and 2 cups of the cheese. Toss to combine.
In a large skillet over medium‑ high heat, warm the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the thyme, and continue to cook until the onion and celery are translucent, about 2 minutes longer. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are tender and the mushrooms' juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes longer. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir it in, then sprinkle the flour over the entire skillet and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the flour is completely combined with the vegetables and there are no lumps. Add the broth and stir to scrape up any brown bits. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the liquid has thickened and reduced by about ½ cup, about 8 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Pour the vegetable sauce over the noodle‑tuna mixture in the bowl and stir to combine. Immediately pour into the prepared casserole dish.
On a large flat plate, toss the panko with the oil and the remaining 1 cup cheese. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the casserole. Bake, uncovered, until the casserole is bubbly and the top is golden, 35-40 minutes. Serve piping hot.
"Mr. & Mrs. Sunday's Suppers" by Lorraine Wallace (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)