French-Inspired Skillet Tuna Casserole

Yes, I did this.

I’ve been wanting to make something else ultra homey but delicately French inspired since my last little pot pie excursion, oui? It’s basically a childhood classic, dialed up and fine tuned a smidge. (butter) Also it’s so very simple and basically all done in a skillet. (butter and cheese) And you are going to be super duper here for it. (because butter and cheese and pasta and butter).

We ready?

What makes it FRENCHISH are a few things. First of all, butter. (said like Meryl Streep in Julie and Julia) But guys:

REAL BUTTER. I know we’ve been over this so much on this here blog and in my Stories (omg all that room temp salted butter we’ve been obsessing over, holy faces). But please, nothing fake in that strange tub. Go real. Real butter tastes the best, performs the best and is the best. The end.

Also, shallots and Gruyere. That’s what gives it a Frenchy twist. And I stand by it.

So this time around I’m using unsalted butter. I like cooking with unsalted butter in recipes because I salt as I go. But I WILL SAY, salted butter at room temp with bread or a radish is positively divine. If you only use salted butter, you’re still a fabulous person. Just taste as you go so you don’t accidentally oversalt. Good? Good.

This is three TBS. butter all melted and glorious with a minced shallot browning in it. What your home smells like right now cannot be put into words. It is other worldly.

We’re gonna make a quick roux with three Tbs. flour added to the sautéed shallot. It will become a paste super quick, so add in a little drizzle of milk to smooth it out. I’ll look like that. ^

Then you add the rest of the milk, whisking as you go, tasting as you go, salting as you go. Tell you what, while you’re at it, zest that lemon and juice the whole thing right in. Keep whisking. It may sliiiiiightly separate at first (acid, ya know) but keep whisking and it will smooth right out. This is our basic bechamel! See how simple that was?

Now, you’ll add cooked egg noodles, two cans of good quality tuna (I used albacore) and a cup of frozen peas RIGHT into the sauce. Oh my word, this is where it starts to really take shape. You’ll just fold it all together in the sauce, coating it all like mega whoa.

Then while we’re at it and feeling good here, let’s sprinkle that grated Gruyere over the top. Nutty, earthy, rich cheese like this is a fancy twist that no face or mouth will see coming. Trust.

While that’s in the oven for riiiiight about 30 minutes, let’s take that other three Tbs. real butter and melt it with 1/2 cup panko! THIS is going to give us a finishing crunch that might just paralyze your soul for the rest of ever. It is so buttery and crispy crunchy that I almost can’t talk about it.

Just kidding I absolutely can. Brown the panko in the butter, and sprinkle it on top of the finished dish, or serve it in a bowl like I did, and let each person garnish their own! It’s worth it. No skipsies.

Well hello there, my new boyfriend. I’ll call you Pierre.

That garnish? Pea tendrils from ze garden! Well, I’m 80% sure they are. Aaron did place Praying Mantis eggs in the garden here and there last week, to keep the bad bugs at bay. So yeah those are either tendrils or Mantises.

Garnish with what you have! Basil would be fabulous, parsley wonderful, tarragon exquisite. Fly, little birdie.

The flaky tuna will shine and give you all the nostalgic feels. The egg noodles are tender and have that classic texture that takes you right back to childhood. The shallots sautéed in butter just add that DEPTH that we crave in comfort food like this. RIGHT? I can feel that collective nod.

I don’t even need to go into the creamy sauce inside, the earthy peas and the rich browned cheese on top. Non.

I’m just gonna say that this would probably be a really good idea for this weekend. Or next weekend. Or next week. Or tonight. Or now.

Do not forget that crunch, bébe.

French-Inspired Skillet Tuna Casserole
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Ingredients

  • 6 Tbs. butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 12 oz egg noodles, cooked
  • 2 (4 oz) cans good quality tuna (albacore is great)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 6 oz grated gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • Coarse salt
  • Any garnish you love!

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400.
  2. Melt 3 Tbs. butter in a wide skillet. Add the minced shallot and a small pinch of salt; sauté about three minutes until it starts to brown. Add the flour and whisk until it becomes a paste. In a thin stream add the milk, whisking as you go. Once all the milk is added, add the zest and juice from the lemon, along with another pinch of salt. Taste it now. We good? Good. If the sauce separates a little due to the acid, just keep whisking. It will smooth right out.
  3. Add the cooked noodles, tuna and peas to the sauce, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the grated Gruyere over the top and bake for 25 minutes, 30 tops, until the cheese is browning in places and starting to bubble.
  4. In the meantime, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter in a smaller skillet. Add the panko with a pinch of salt and brown in the butter, about three minutes. It will be golden brown, crispy and crunchy!
  5. Serve the casserole garnished with anything you like, along with the crunchy panko topping.
  6. Serves about six!
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https://bevcooks.com/2020/06/french-inspired-skillet-tuna-casserole/

Yeah, definitely tonight.

(This post is totally in partnership with my lover REAL BUTTER. But of course all ramblings and butter meltings and inhalings are my own. We coo?)

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2 Responses to French-Inspired Skillet Tuna Casserole

  1. Nancy June 18, 2020 at 8:11 am #
    Love the pea shoot garnish! Love it!
    • Bev Weidner June 18, 2020 at 10:11 am #
      Well thanks, Nancy! I hope you enjoy it soon!

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