Jan received some green beans and cherry tomatoes from the SJSU Environmental Studies garden [correction]. There were not enough green beans or tomatoes to make a separate dish. I started to think of ways I could add them to a main dish. I finally decided to use them in a seafood noodle casserole.
I have a religious objection to tuna casseroles! I had too many Sunday socials with endless tuna casseroles as a PK (preacher’s kid). They were all the same—canned tuna, Campbell’s® cream of mushroom soup, frozen peas, and French’s® French fried onions.
While I like fresh fish, I have little use for canned tuna. I am also not overly fond of peas. Finally, since I started making my own soups, I also find that all of Campbell’s soups are way too salty.
According to Wikipedia, tuna casserole is “convenient” in that it uses no fresh ingredients. That in a nutshell is my main objection to tuna casseroles—nothing in it is fresh. I wanted to make a seafood casserole that was as fresh as I could make it.
Note: I really should go that one step further and make fresh noodles, but this was a week day meal.
After Dinner Note: Jan and Eilene really liked this dish. They both had seconds and barely left enough for two more servings as their lunches.
It’s Not a Tuna Casserole! It’s not! It’s not! It’s not!
6 oz. wide noodles, dried
1 tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
½ yellow onion
½ lb. green beans
1 lb. fresh rock fish (red snapper, cod, anything but tuna)
4-6 tbs. butter, separate uses
½ tsp. black pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. flour
1½ cups whole milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½+ cup flat-leafed parsley
10-15 cherry tomatoes
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add half a teaspoon of salt and the noodles. Simmer until they are just al dente.
Tip: You are going to bake the noodles later, so you do not want them to be overdone.
2. Cut the onion, pole to pole, into thin crescents and set aside.
Tip: You want the onion slices to be about ¼ inch at the widest.
3. Rinse and cut the green beans into half inch pieces and set aside.
4. Cut the fish into small bite sized pieces and set aside.
5. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onions and half a teaspoon of salt until just translucent, about three minutes.
6. Add the green beans and continue sautéing for two more minutes.
7. Add the fish and cook until just opaque, about two more minutes.
Tip: You are not trying to cook everything through at this point.
8. Crack fresh pepper over the fish mixture, to taste, and stir it in.
9. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
10. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
11. Melt the remaining three tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux, about three minutes.
Tip: The longer you cook a roux the darker it will get. For this dish you want it to be fairly pale.
12. Put the milk in the microwave and heat it on high for one minute.
Tip: This step is not strictly necessary, but if you add cold milk to the roux it will clump up and it will be harder to make a smooth sauce.
13. Slowly add the milk to the roux while stirring constantly.
14. Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and continue cooking the sauce until it is starting to thicken.
15. Add the noodles and parsley to the fish mixture and pour the sauce over all.
Note: Reserve about a tablespoon of parsley for the garnish.
16. Gently fold the mixture together to coat everything with the sauce.
Tip: If your pan is oven proof, you may bake the casserole directly in the pan.
17. Transfer the mixture to a buttered (or Pam-ed) casserole dish and smooth it out with a spatula.
18. Press the cherry tomatoes into the mixture, so that they are about three quarters submerged in the noodles and fish.
Note: If you must, you may top the casserole with buttered bread crumbs at this point. I personally do not think that is necessary.
19. Bake the casserole for 30-40 minutes, until it is starting to brown on top.
20. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for ten minutes.
Tip: As Jan discovered, the juices inside the tomatoes will be blisteringly hot right out of the oven.
21. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve.
Note: You may also garnish with French’s® French fried onions if you choose. I would not.