I have a problem with casseroles. In the forty years that Jan and I have been together, I have made maybe three tuna casseroles. Last month, bowing to pressure from both Jan and Eilene, I made a seafood casserole. They both really liked this dish. They both had seconds and barely left enough for two more servings as their lunches.
Eilene begged to have it again this week. I did not want to make exactly the same thing again, so I packed it with vegetables and added shrimp. It is still not a tuna casserole!
Karl’s It’s Still Not a Tuna Casserole!
6 oz. wide noodles, dried
1 tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
4-6 tbs. butter, separate uses
½ yellow onion
2 stalks celery, diced
½ lb. green beans
½ lb. fresh rock fish (red snapper, cod, anything but tuna)
½ tsp. black pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. flour
2 cups whole milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ lb. shrimp meat
½+ cup green onion, green parts only, finely chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, diced
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. Dice the celery and slice the leek into fine shreds.
4. Rinse and cut the green beans into half inch pieces and set aside.
5. Cut the fish into small bite sized pieces and set aside.
6. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onions and celery with half a teaspoon of salt until just translucent, about three minutes.
7. Add the leeks and continue sautéing for two more minutes.
8. Add the green beans and continue sautéing for two minutes more.
9. Add the fish and cook until just opaque, about one minute.
Tip: You are not trying to cook everything through at this point.
10. Crack fresh pepper over the fish mixture, to taste, and stir it in.
11. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
12. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
13. 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.
14. Put the milk in the microwave and heat it on high for one minute.
Tip: This step is not really necessary, but if you add cold milk to the roux it will clump up and it will be harder to make a smooth sauce.
15. Slowly add the milk to the roux while stirring constantly.
16. Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and continue cooking the sauce until it is starting to thicken.
17. Add the noodles, shrimp, and green onions to the fish mixture and pour 2/3 of the sauce over all.
18. 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.
19. Transfer the mixture to a buttered (or Pam-ed) casserole dish and smooth it out with a spatula.
20. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the casserole and garnish the top with the red bell peppers.
Note: If you must, you may top the casserole with buttered bread crumbs before you add the peppers. I personally do not think that is necessary.
21. Bake the casserole for 30-40 minutes, until it is starting to brown on top.
22. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for ten minutes.
Note: You may also garnish with French’s® French fried onions if you choose. I would not.