Creole Tuna Casserole

What could be better? Elements of creole cooking combined with comfort food… for me that’s redundant, but that’s not the point…

Creole Tuna Casserole

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tins (12 oz. total) of tuna packed in water, drained
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 can of Rotel or diced tomatoes
16 oz. shell-type or rotini pasta (any type that will hold sauce well)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups of milk
8 oz. SHARP cheddar cheese
a couple of dashes of Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
hot sauce to taste
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs (depends on your taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees;. Start your pasta water boiling. Sautée onion and bell pepper in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and tomatoes and sautee mixture for another 2 minutes. Season vegetable mixture with creole seasoning, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and hot sauce then remove from heat. Check pasta for just below al dente stage as the pasta will cook more in the oven, drain pasta when it’s done. The next step is to make a béchamel sauce. Start the roux by melting the butter and adding the flour to the melted butter. You only want this to be a blond roux, so you don’t need to cook it long, just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste. Add cold milk to roux and whisk until smooth. Add 3/4 of your shredded cheddar cheese to béchamel and whisk until creamy smooth. Combine tuna, pasta and vegetable mixture in a bowl and mix together until all the ingredients are fairly integrated. Add béchamel to mixture and fold until blended. Transfer mixture into a casserole dish, top with leftover cheese and bread crumbs. To make bread crumbs turn out crunchy and golden brown, add a tablespoon more of butter, chopped, to the top. Bake at 350 degrees; for 30 minutes.

EDIT: you can try it with Fontina or Gruyere mixed in with the cheddar. Or better yet, try Pepper Jack.

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