My father (meaning Francesca’s) did most of the cooking while I was growing up. My dad is the strong yet humorous Italian guy with awesome pink sweaters and loafers that can cook anyone under the table. However some of my favorite dishes are part of the repertoire that my mother keeps hiding up her sleeve. They were all made for me when I had a hankering for something homey, I was usually sick, and I still crave them just the way my mom makes it. Now that Michael has been hazed in to the family, he eats my mom’s tuna noodle casserole all the time with us, and good thing he is here, because I without fail screw up béchamel because I’m not paying attention, (so when you make this, don’t be like me, and follow directions). I didn’t realize how special my mom’s casserole is until I was looking up other people’s recipes, three differences: 1) We use olives not peas 2) we put cloves in our béchamel, and 3) we grate onion into the béchamel as well.
So go ahead and enjoy this delicious casserole, it will bring comfort to you as you enter the cooler weather of October, and is awesome to eat with Halloween pajamas!
*a term we use Mise En Place: literally in French means in putting in place, is a term in cooking where you put all your ingredients in its place, all chopped and ready for you to cook.
Ingredients: serves 4-6
4 Tbsp. flour
4 cups milk
1 Tbsp. salt
1 white onion
2 large cans tuna in water, so about 1 cup
2 bags egg noodle
½ cup green olives with pimentos
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Now for the béchamel…you are going to make it in two sauce pans and then combine in to one. In one pan, melt the butter and once melted add your flour, in a separate pan boil your milk. While whisking you butter and flour mixture, add one cup of boiled milk at a time, making sure you mix thoroughly so as to not clump up your sauce. Now add your salt, 6 cloves and grate the whole onion. Let cook and stir for about 4 more minutes. Taste and make sure it has the salt level you want, because this will be most of the salt for the whole dish. Now remove the cloves, and you are ready to use your béchamel.
In a large bowl mix together all of your noodles, béchamel, tuna, and olives, you can salt while you stir. Once mixed pour into your casserole pan (we made a small one in a casserole dish, and a large one in a glass baking pan). Now cover the top with ¾ of your grated parmesan, leaving some leftover for when you eat.
Place in oven, bake for about 10 minutes, so that the cheese melts and browns slightly, no longer than 15 minutes because you don’t want the casserole to dry out.
Serve and eat! This is so tasty, and will be gone in a flash!