Springtime Tuna Noodle Casserole

Spring has sprung.  The groundhog knows it, my allergies know it, and the farmers’ markets/grocery stores know it too.   I’m sure you can guess which one of the three I am thinking of today.  No, we’re not going to discuss my sneezing or the furry animal. 

I’m talking about the amazing asparagus.  There are piles of it at my local market right now, and I’m telling you, they were practically giving it away.  I bought like four bushels.  Is that the right term?  Bushel?  Probably not, but I got a ton. 

Cheese!

Cheese!

I don’t know what it is about green veggies right now, but as soon as the weather takes a turn toward spring, I gotta have ‘em.  This is similar, I think, to my fixation on orange food in fall and winter.  Remember all those squash and sweet potato recipes?  Seriously.

Only good things can come from this kind of tunnel vision, though, and this pasta just makes me jump for joy.  I can't get enough of this childhood favorite. 

What?  Have I said that about something before?  Well, yes, but this time it’s different.  Tuna noodle casserole actually was my number one favorite food of all time as a kid.  You can ask my mom.

Asparagus!

Asparagus!

Sometime in college, I stopped eating it as often.  It may have had something to do with trying to eat healthier.  (How weird that this health-kick started upon entering college?)  I suppose I just realized that pasta slathered in cheese and canned cream of mushroom soup was just not… all that healthy.   

But the other day, I spotted whole-wheat egg noodles at the grocery store, the very same twisty shapes we had always used in tuna noodle casserole… clearly, this was a sign that the old favorite was due for a makeover.

Tuna!

Tuna!

Armed with lots of fresh ingredients and enough cooking knowledge to avoid using canned cream of mushroom, the tastiest (and most nutritious) tuna casserole I’ve ever had was created.

Okay, now get at this.  I dare your socks to be rocked.

PS. What are some of YOUR favorite springtime foods?

Springtime Tuna Noodle Casserole

6 oz dry whole wheat egg noodles

1 (5 oz) can of tuna in water, not yet drained

1 bunch asparagus, bottom ends removed, and chopped into 1-2” lengths

1 bunch seasonal greens or kale, washed and chopped or torn

5 large button mushrooms, diced

1 - 1 ½ c. chicken or imitation chicken stock

About ¼ c. goat cheese

½ c. cheddar or cheese blend

2 heaping T. whole wheat flour

½ small lemon, juiced

Garlic and onion powder (use your shaker liberally, to taste!)

 

Boil water and cook the pasta to al dente according to the directions.  Drain and return to the pot, off the heat, and mix in ½ c. of the stock to slightly cool the pasta and keep it from sticking.

While the pasta cooks, sauté the chopped asparagus over medium heat in a large sauté pan using canola oil cooking spray.  Cook them, turning occasionally, for about 2 minutes or until they turn bright green. 

Add the kale or greens and mushrooms, along with a bit more cooking spray and some of the garlic and onion powder.  Sauté for another minute or two – the greens and asparagus should ultimately be bright green and cooked al dente.

Transfer the asparagus, mushrooms, and greens to the pasta and mix in.

Drain the water from the tuna into the same sauté pan, and add ½ c. of the remaining chicken (or veg) stock, along with the 2 T. whole wheat flour, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, for few minutes.  Add the cheeses and more garlic and onion powder and mix to create a somewhat thick sauce.  Mix in the lemon juice.  This will probably be the right consistency, but if you feel your sauce has reduced too much or it’s just too thick, you can add the extra ½ c. stock.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and gently mix together.  Taste test, of course, and serve hot to your adoring fans!  (Of course those people we feed are our adoring fans, right?)