Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuna-Noodle Bake

This week's post has multiple points. First, it's a pantry recipe. Which means it's there for you on the nights when you get home and you have absolutely no fresh produce left in your fridge. Secondly, it's a Weight Watchers (c) recipe. So it's a healthi-fied version of a comfort classic. And thirdly, I decided to test the Don't Panic method. Which is great for cooking for singles and doubles. You can literally make your mom's lasagna recipe and not eat it every night for a week. No cutting recipes in half!

I had never made tuna casserole in my life. My mom made tuna helper from time to time, but was often met with groans. Canned tuna still isn't my favorite food, but because it's so cheap I incorporate it to keep my food budget down. Dennis said his mom cooked something that was basically a tuna noodle bowl (not baked in the oven), but was covered in lots of cheese. So I decided to use this Weight Watchers recipe to help strike a balance.

First of all, the recipe serves four. It says to use a 2 quart casserole dish. After looking through the Don't Panic books I was inspired to take their idea and scale it down. I'll explain the Don't Panic Method below. Just about every recipe in the book fed 6 or more. Instead, I could simply make the single casserole for six put it into two pans (with 3 servings each) or three pans (with 2 servings each). My tuna bake serves four so I used two meatloaf pans with 2 servings in each. It was a PAIN to try to line the pan with the aluminum foil and plastic wrap. When I later cooked the other half, the plastic wrap got stuck in the grooves and we literally had to wait till it was cooked to pull out the bits I couldn't dig out. So I am going to try to wrap and freeze method a few more times. If it doesn't get easier with practice, I'll switch to disposable aluminum pans (which can be reused a few times before discarding).

The recipe advocates cooking it for 50 minutes. This should certainly be decreased for the smaller servings, I put it in for 30 and it was pretty much overcooked. The eggs had all gone to the bottom and baked into a slightly overdone fritata consistency. The noodles on top were very dry. The second time, we baked it while frozen and it took about 40 minutes and it was good. Not dry at all. I wanted it to be a little runny (personal preference). Basically, I am saying start checking your casserole after 15-20min just to see the progress and decide how well done you want your casserole.

I am posting the original recipe. You can make it all at once and eat left overs (it's a small casserole), just make half, or divide it and do the Don't Panic Method. It's cheap and quick, and relatively tasty.

Don't Panic Method:

1. Follow your casseroles instructions with minor tweaks. Instead of one pan, divide it into smaller pans/dishes for 1-3 servings each. However, be sure to line your pans (with a lot of excess) with aluminum foil first, then plastic, and finally put the food inside.
2. Freeze your casseroles.
3. Once frozen solid, pop them out of the casserole dish. You may have to run some hot water on the bottom.
4. Make sure your casserole is wrapped well and possibly placed in a freezer bag. Put it in the freezer until ready for use (I don't advocate more than 3-6 months).

5. When ready, take casserole out and unwrap it (probably with a little help from some hot water). This does have a small yuck factor.

6. Put the unwrapped casserole back into the pan it molded to.

7. Thaw completely or slightly and then bake.

Tuna-Noodle Bake
(4 Servings)

2 cups wide whole-wheat egg noodles
1 (16oz) bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 (6oz) can or pouch of water-packed solid white tuna, drained and flaked
1 1/2 c. fat-free milk
2 large eggs
3/4 c. shredded fat-free sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a shallow 2 quart casserole dish with canola oil nonstick spray. Cook the noodles according to package directions, adding the mixed vegetables during the last minute of cooking. Drain and pour into the casserole dish. Scatter the tune over the top.

2. Lightly beat the milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in about 1/2 c. of the cheese, the sale, and pepper; pour over the pasta mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c. cheese. Bake uncovered, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes, then cut into four servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment