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Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Dill

February 23, 2011

This is one of our favorite weeknight make-ahead recipes. I normally shy away from recipes for tuna noodle casserole because they inevitably contain mushrooms – a food I can stomach in Asian stir-fries, but not much else. I was very excited to find that Bon Appetit‘s take on this old standby casserole substitutes leeks! Leeks are intimidating to some because they tend to contain a lot of dirt, inside and out, and unless they are cleaned thoroughly, dishes may turn out gritty. The easiest way I’ve found to clean leeks is to first, without washing, cut off the tough dark green leaves at the top and the root end at the bottom. Then slice the cylinder lengthwise and chop each half crosswise to the desired thickness. Place all the cut pieces in a colander and rinse thoroughly under running water, moving the pieces around with your hand until no traces of dirt remain. It may seem backwards to chop a vegetable without washing it first, but I’ve never had any surprise dirt using this method!

Tuna noodle casserole


Serves 6

Can be made up to 1 day ahead: at the end of step 3, allow dish to cool to room temperature, then cover with foil and refrigerate. Increase baking time to 30-40 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1/4  cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 1/2  cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; from about 2 large)
  • 1/4  teaspoon celery seeds
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4  cup all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups whole milk
  • 1/2  cup half and half
  • 1  teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 8  ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1/2  cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2  tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2  5- to 6-ounce cans albacore tuna (preferably oil-packed), drained and broken into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2  cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips (about 2 ounces)

Directions

  1. Grease 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and celery seeds; sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually add milk and half and half; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Season leek sauce to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Remove sauce from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain noodles, reserving 3/4 cup noodle cooking liquid. Add noodles to leek sauce and stir gently to combine. Add grated Gruyère cheese and dill and stir to blend; add reserved noodle cooking liquid by tablespoons until mixture is moist and creamy. Fold in tuna. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
  4. Cover baking dish with foil and bake until heated through, about 20-30 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle crushed potato chips over and continue to bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown and filling bubbles, about ten minutes longer. Serve hot.

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