This interpretation of a comfort-food classic is essentially a lasagna, much easier to make using no-boil noodle sheets, one of the food world’s great inventions. Tuna packed in oil rather than water (especially Italian or Spanish premium tuna) is preferable; it has much better flavor.
Make Ahead: The casserole can be assembled a day in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 3 months. The recipe can be cut in half easily, to make 1 stack of noodles instead of 2.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups frozen mixed peas and carrots, defrosted
- 1 bunch scallions, white and light-green parts, chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1 small bunch dill, chopped (1/4 cup, packed)
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning the vegetables
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning the vegetables
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup flour
- 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon powdered mustard, such as Colman's
- 12 ounces canned nonfat evaporated milk (may substitute regular milk)
- 2 1/2 cups whole or low-fat milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco brand
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 10 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles, such as Barilla brand
- Four 5-ounce cans tuna in oil, drained and broken up into chunks with a fork; or 20 ounces thinly sliced salmon fillet
- 1/4 cup panko (japanese-style) bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Lightly grease a 2-quart square casserole dish with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they exude their juices and become lightly browned. Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in the peas and carrots, scallions and dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and the garlic; cook for a few minutes, stirring, to get rid of the raw-flour taste. Add the powdered mustard, then gradually stir in the evaporated milk and the whole or low-fat milk (or all milk, if you are using), whisking continually to keep lumps from forming. Add the Worcestershire and hot pepper sauces, the 1 teaspoon of salt and the 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook the sauce for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until it achieves the consistency of thick gruel. Stir in the cheese. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.
To assemble: Spread 1/2 cup of the cooled sauce and a sprinkling of vegetables on the bottom of the casserole. (This will prevent the noodles from sticking.) Place 2 lasagna sheets side by side on the bottom. Top the sheets with a quarter of the remaining vegetable mix, a quarter of the tuna or salmon and 3/4 cup of sauce. Starting with a noodle layer, repeat for 3 more layers, then top with a layer of lasagna sheets. (That makes a total of 5 layers of noodles, vegetables and sauce, and four layers of the tuna or salmon.) It is okay if some of the sauce and vegetables pool around the stacked noodles.
Spread the remaining sauce on the top layer of lasagna noodles and sprinkle the panko evenly over the sauce. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Cover the casserole (loosely, don’t smash it) with a square of parchment paper, then seal with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 minutes, then uncover and bake for 20 minutes to brown the crumbs. (If you want them a little browner, turn the broiler on for a couple of minutes and monitor the casserole closely.)
Allow the casserole to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
From Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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