The food of our childhood has come back, but often it’s been rehabilitated – made from scratch, not from a box or a can. One of my favorites to get this treatment is tuna noodle casserole.
A while back I found a recipe for tuna noodle casserole redux on the Food52 blog. As I was looking at the ingredients, I thought, why not make it with canned salmon instead?
Canned salmon is cheap, and it’s wild, not farmed, another plus. Sure, you might have to pick out a few soft bones, but you would have to do that with a container of crab too.
I started with the Food52 recipe as a guide, made my changes and ended up with my new salmon noodle casserole recipe. It was delicious, packing a lot more flavor than the typical tuna noodle casserole.
You could use regular white mushrooms instead of portobello and shiitake mushrooms, but I prefer those for flavor. If you don’t have dry vermouth in your cupboard, no worries, add a little white wine instead, or skip it entirely. My mother’s tuna noodle casserole always included peas, so I added them here too, plus peas go well with salmon in a springtime kind of way.
Salmon Noodle Casserole
You’ll need a large pan, medium bowl, whisk, 8- or 10-inch square baking pan and a small pan.
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup diced portobello mushrooms
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1/2 tablespoon fresh, minced
- 1/2 or more tablespoon minced chives
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1-1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- Few grates of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 14-15 oz canned salmon, drained
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 8 ounces ziti, cooked until al dente and drained
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup panko
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350. In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they’ve given off all of their liquid and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and remove from pan to a bowl.
Add more oil to the pan if necessary, and then cook onion, shallot and celery together for about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cook one minute. Stir in the chopped herbs and the vermouth and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir this mixture into the mushrooms.
Heat butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the milk and chicken stock, bit by bit, to make a smooth sauce. Cook, stirring, until just slightly thickened, another minute or two. Add nutmeg, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Flake the salmon (watch for boney parts) and add it to the white sauce along with the mushroom-onion mixture and pasta. Stir to combine it all together. Grease the baking pan and transfer the mixture into it.
In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir in the minced garlic and the panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until the panko is golden brown. Add parmesan cheese, mix it in and sprinkle this all over the casserole. Put the casserole in the oven and bake until it is bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Adapted from: Tuna Noodle Casserole Redux, Food52