A typical Sunday for our family starts with going to church and then a pitstop at Central Market in Poulsbo on our way home to grab a quick lunch and some odds and ends.
Our trips always have a few required waypoints. When I have the kids, we pop off at the bakery for a free cookie or fresh tortilla. And then regardless of who is in my crew, we pop off at the test kitchen to say hi to Chef Katie and Chef Rob. We've been going here for a few years, and these two people have bridged the gap between grocery store employees and genuine parts of our community.
What really cemented our relationship with the cooking stand staff was when Romanesco Cauliflower was in season last year. My twin boys were curious about this odd looking vegetable, so I encouraged them to go over to Chef Katie and ask her expert opinion on how best to prepare it. She was her bubbly, excited self and gave them her undivided attention. After a few minutes of discussion, she offered to gift them a Romanesco on the house and asked that they report back on what they thought. We ended up roasting the odd-looking veggie, and my family loved it. Ever since we have been going back for our regular visits with Katie and Rob, and our friendship keeps getting stronger.
Today, was a typical Sunday. We stopped by Central Market on our way home to grab some things. Rob was working. He had made a tasty Tuna Noodle Casserole. My gents loved it so much they had seconds. I got into a passionate discussion with Rob about eating in season and creating meal plans that used ingredients that are both local and in season.
As we talked, Jason was herding cats...I mean keeping the kids in line. He decided to capitalize on their excitement over this casserole and grabbed the recipe card as well as a bunch of the display ingredients. When your young kids get excited about food, it is so so important to lean into that energy and show them how they can make food easily at home. Tuna noodle casserole is something I often make at home, but I guess it's been a while. Our kids are six and four. Their memories of menus past isn't that extensive, so I was happy to go along with this change to our meal plan.
After scanning the recipe card, we decided to make a few edits to the Central Market version. We live in the PNW, and it's January. So whenever I get the chance, I add dark leafy greens from our winter garden to our dishes to up the nutritional benefits. Mustard greens are a perfect choice for creamy mushroom bechamel. A lot of recipes I have found add dried mustard to cheese sauces. It adds a brightness and zing that enhances the cheesy flavors. Well, mustard greens taste like...mustard. Score! I chopped the stems, and Jason sauteed them with the onion and celery. Then we simply tossed the greens in with the warm bechamel along with the tuna and mushrooms.
There were a few other minor tweaks made to the recipe. Instead of using just cheddar cheese, we did half cheddar and half gruyere because it was in our fridge. We then finished the casserole with a sprinkling of panko bread crumbs and parsley in addition to the cheese to give it a crunchy top. Thirty minutes later it was dinner time. Everyone, except our four-year-old, had a second helping, and there were no leftovers. I'll take that as a win.
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 bunch mustard greens, stems, diced and leaves, rough chopped
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp Sherry
2 cups whole milk heated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup gruyere cheese, divided
2 cans solid white tuna, drained, flaked
8 oz medium egg noodles, cooked
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tsp dried parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter a 9x13-inch casserole.
Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and set aside.
Melt the butter in the same pan and saute the onion, celery, and mustard green stems until tender. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for one minute.
Slowly add the heated milk and sherry and whisk until thick and creamy. Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. Add half the cheese and stir to combine. Next, add the mushrooms and mustard greens to the bechamel sauce. Combine with the cooked noodles and place in the casserole. Sprinkle with the Panko, parsley and remaining cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes.