The best friend and I had a retro 1960s Sunday night supper tonight.  It all started with a New York Times article revisitng a 1966 recipe for a chocolate mousse (that’s not really a mousse).  With dessert sorted, we needed a 60s entree that a vegetarian (that’s not really a vegetarian) could eat.  The penultimate dish?  Tuna Casserole!

Tuna Casserole with Peas and Carrots

Ingredients:

½ frozen chopped onion
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cans sliced shitake mushrooms, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 (5-oz) cans tuna in olive oil, drained
1 package dried curly egg noodles
1 package frozen petite green peas
1 cup fresh baby carrots, sliced longways
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup grated Dubliner cheese

How I made it:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

Bring 5 quarts water to a boil.  Cook noodles according to package, until al dente.

Cook the onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to pop. Add soy sauce and continue to sauté mushrooms for another minute. Remove from heat.

Melt the remaining butter over moderately low heat. Whisk in flour, then cook the roux, whisking, for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth in a slow and steady stream, whisking.  Increase the heat and continue whisking until it comes to a boil. Whisk in the milk and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Let simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir the mushroom mixture into the sauce and add lemon juice. Flake the tuna into the sauce and stir gently.

About 3 minutes before the noodles are done, add the peas and carrots.  Drain noodles and vegetables in a colander and return them to the pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly.

Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over casserole.

Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling (20 minutes).  Serves 10.

How it turned out:

Far better than the normal Starkist and Campbell’s version, which is good since it took about three times as long to make. The tuna was flavorful but not overpowering, the carrots were sweet and still firm, and the overall presentation was festive.  The best friend declared it to be “the nuts!!”  Which is apparently almost as good as the “cat’s pajamas.” And there is plenty for lunch and dinner later this week.

Chocolate Rum “Mousse”

This was taken from the 1966 recipe published in the New York Times.  The only changes were to use a hand mixer instead of a blender, and 70% dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet chips.  The NY Times had warned that the result was less of a mousse and more of a panna cotta.  My results were “delicious!”  While not as airy as a mousse, it’s not really a pudding either.  Easy + rave reviews = a definite make-again.

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