Saturday, May 14, 2011

Recipe of the Week: No-Bake Tuna Casserole

The inspiration for this recipe comes from my efforts to use the supplies I had in my freezer and pantry. I tend to stock them both, yet forget about what may be lurking deep within. I noticed I had 6 or so cans of tuna hidden away, which I don't normally do anything with except make tuna salad. Typically, I am not so keen on fish, but I gave it a try, and here is our experiment.

No-Bake Tuna Casserole
serves 4

1/2 pound penne pasta
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
One 10-ounce bag frozen cut green beans, thawed
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
One 7-ounce package tuna, drained
Grated peel of 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon, cut into wedges

1. In a large saucepan, of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and toast, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

3. In the same skillet, add the garlic and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and cook over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. Stir in the green beans and cannellini beans and cook until tender.

4. Add the pasta, tuna and lemon peel to the skillet and toss. Season with salt and pepper and top with the toasted crumbs. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Recipe found in the May 2008 edition of Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine.

From my experience:
First let me say, my family did not like this recipe! I realized that I like my tuna cold. The original picture in the magazine was pretty with chunky pieces of tuna, tomato, and green beans. My version turned out a bit mushy. The tomatoes had thoroughly cooked, so they were limp, and the tuna and beans got well incorporated into the mix giving it a gritty texture. I used 2, 5-ounce cans of tuna, drained of coarse, so it had more tuna than called for in the recipe. I thought it would end up with a strong fishy taste, but the power ingredient was the beans. The pasta should have had a more intense lemon flavor coming from the grated lemon zest, but I opted for lemon pepper and lemon juice since I didn't have the real deal, mistake. I served it with a sweet salad. While this recipe was easy to make and included basic ingredients, I will not be making it again.

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