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How to Make an Easy, Weeknight Dinner for $5 or Less: New-Fashioned Tuna Casserole

This really is an easy casserole to make, even without the canned mushroom soup! The "new-fashioned" casserole (it's "new" because the old types mostly included canned soup) includes ingredients that you probably have on hand or can easily find, it's delicious, and it's simple and inexpensive to make. Leftovers also make great lunches, zapped in the microwave. You can vary the types of vegetables you use to suit your taste, and choose whatever smallish pasta you have available. I often use shells, but penne, ziti, and rotini all work fine. Yes, the dish uses canned tuna. The tuna tastes just fine in the dish, and it provides an incredible amount of inexpensive, "heart-healthy" protein. I'm not sure why canned tuna has, during the past decade or so, received so little attention among the "foodies," unless they haven't figured out how to cook it or make it "over the top" expensive. For me and my family, we like it, especially in this easy, comfort food casserole. Enjoy!

How to Make an Easy, Weeknight Dinner for $5 or Less:  New-Fashioned Tuna Casserole
How to Make an Easy, Weeknight Dinner for $5 or Less: New-Fashioned Tuna Casserole

Easy, Weeknight Tuna Casserole -- Serves 4


1-2 tablespoons of canola oil

1/4 cup of chopped onion

1/4 cup of chopped celery

1/4 cup of chopped red bell pepper

2-3 tablespoons of flour (depending on how thick you want your sauce)

1 1/2 cups of milk (cold)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes

2 5-ounce cans of tuna in water or oil, drained (or use a 12-ounce can)

3-4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables (I zap a 12-ounce bag of California mix--broccoli,

carrots, cauliflower--in the microwave for 5-minutes before adding it)

2 cups of uncooked pasta shells, cooked, with 1 cup of pasta water saved

1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs or a couple of pieces of stale bread, crumbled up

1/2 cup of shredded cheddar or other cheese (additional Parmesan works well or Colby-

Jack)


In a large, nonstick skillet or chef's pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and saute them for 5-10 minutes until they soften. Stir in the flour for a minute or two. Add the milk, salt, pepper, and dried parsley and whisk the mixture gently and constantly until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and stir in the tuna, the grated Parmesan, and the vegetables. Add the cooked pasta to the mixture, then mix in enough water (about 3/4 - 1 cup) to loosen up the mixture so you can stir it easily but not have it soupy. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish, or, if your skillet/chef's pan is oven-proof, you can just bake the casserole in that. Top the tuna mixture with the Panko/crumbled bread and then the shredded cheese. Bake the casserole for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and the topping is brown. Let the casserole stand a few minutes before serving it.

How to Make an Easy, Weeknight Dinner for $5 or Less:  New-Fashioned Tuna Casserole
How to Make an Easy, Weeknight Dinner for $5 or Less: New-Fashioned Tuna Casserole



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