Italian-Americans celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. I don’t love fish. I especially dislike salmon. Tuna, on the other hand, is my favorite. I like to make Creamy Tuna Noodle Cazuela for a celebration or a weeknight meal. Splurge and buy the imported canned tuna from Spain or Italy. The jarred piquillo peppers add a twist from the traditional tuna casserole. This dish is something special.
1 lb. farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
6 tsp. unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, or 2% or even half-n-half (warmed)
1 ½ cups frozen baby peas
¾ cup piquillo peppers (6 ounces) Roasted red peppers can be substituted
½ cup Parmesan cheese ( or more!)
2 6-ounce cans of white tuna in oil, drained and flaked
salt and pepper
1 cup panko
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the farfalle pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and cook over high heat, stirring, until the onions are softened. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened. In case you were wondering, this is called a béchamel sauce. Fancy!
Once thickened, add the farfalle pasta, frozen baby peas, sliced piquillo peppers, Parmesan cheese and tuna. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a large baking dish, or individual gratin dishes.
In a small skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoon of butter. Add the panko and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the panko over the casserole and bake for about 20 minutes or until bubbling. Serve immediately.
Note: You can play around with the proportions. The original recipe is here. I like more tuna, so I added an additional can. I increased a few other things, especially the panko topping. Yum!