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Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake

It's time for some good old fashioned comfort food. This soul-satisfying classic is reassuringly familiar and easy on the budget.

 Our  modern rendition of tuna fish casserole includes a nutritional boost of broccoli in a creamy basil sauce but still has all the comforting goodness you remember. Feel free to substitute  low sodium chicken broth and low-fat mozzarella to make this even healthier but if you can,  treat yourself to some good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. Its complex flavour will take this to a whole new level of gourmet comfort food. And if you can’t find fresh basil, dried is just fine. We’ve included the substitution for it below the recipe.

  1. 2 TBSP butter 30 ml
  2. 6 green onions, chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. 4 cups sliced mushrooms 1 L
  5. 1⁄2 TSP salt 2 ml
  6. TSP freshly ground black pepper 2 ml
  7. 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour 75 ml
  8. 2 cups light (5%) cream or milk 500 ml
  9. 1 ½ cups Chicken Stock or 375 ml ready-to-use chicken broth
  10. 3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  11. 2⁄3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 150 ml
  12. 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh basil 125 ml
  13. 12 oz penne 375 g
  14. 4 cups broccoli florets and chopped peeled stems 1L
  15. 2 cans (each 6 oz/170 g) solid 2 white tuna, drained and flaked
  16. 1 ½ cups soft fresh bread crumbs 375 ml
  17. 1 cup shredded Asiago or mozzarella 250 ml cheese
  1. Grease a 13- by 9-inch (33 by 23 cm) baking dish. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook green onions, garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened.
  2. In a bowl, whisk flour with 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) cream until smooth; add the remaining cream. Add to pan along with stock. Bring to a boil, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes, Parmesan and basil. (Can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
  3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 7 minutes or until almost tender. Add broccoli; cook for 2 minutes or until broccoli is bright green and crisp, and pasta is just tender. Drain; chill under cold water. Drain well and return to pot. Stir in tuna and sauce. Spread in baking dish. (Casserole can be prepared to this point; cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours before serving. Increase baking time by 15 minutes.)
  4. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs and Asiago cheese; sprinkle over top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden and center is piping hot.
  5. Serves 8
  1. Tip: If fresh basil is unavailable, substitute 2 TSP (10 ml) dried basil and cook with onions.
  2. Tip: Assemble the dish no more than 4 hours ahead to prevent pasta from soaking up the sauce.
  3. Variation: For a vegetarian version, omit tuna and substitute 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
The Best of Bridge

This recipe is available in the book Best of Bridge Home Cooking.

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