Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

September 13, 2015

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Margaux says…

I know, I know…why am I posting about something boring like tuna pasta salad? Where’s the cake? Cookies? Cupcakes? It’s end of summer harvest…where are the tomatoes? Zucchini? Sweet corn? Well, sometimes I have nothing in the pantry but a couple of cans of tuna, some pasta, some frozen peas and some parsley.  When I desperately need to go grocery shopping, it’s likely that I have those things. So I make this tuna pasta salad, a recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated 30-minute suppers magazine that I’ve vowed to post all of my favorite recipes from.

And this is not your normal tuna pasta salad. It’s not mayonnaise-y or sweet. It has great flavor and a little bit of a bite from the lemon, garlic and Dijon mustard. I like to serve it on a bed of arugula, and if I have them on hand, with a handful of cherry tomatoes thrown in, too. The original recipe calls for toasted breadcrumbs on top, which I don’t love the texture of, but I’ll include the steps to that for those of you who would like it!

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

adapted from 30-Minute Suppers from America’s Test Kitchen, Fall 2010 edition

2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (optional)

1/2 cup olive oil (plus 1 tbsp if doing bread crumbs)

3 tbsp juice from one lemon

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 (6-oz) cans tuna packed in water, drained and flaked into large chunks (I like the “chunk light” tuna)

1 pound small shells

2 cups frozen peas

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. If doing bread crumbs, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about 6 pulses. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

2. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper together in large bowl. Slowly whisk in remaining oil. Gently toss tuna with 1/4 cup dressing in separate bowl.

3. Meanwhile, add shells and 1 tbsp salt to boiling water and cook until almost al dente. Add peas to pot and cook additional 1 minute. Drain pasta and peas and rinse with cold water. Add pasta, peas and parsley to bowl with remaining dressing and toss to coat. Gently fold in tuna and season with salt and pepper. Serve, topping each portion with bread crumbs.

Serve over a bed of arugula, or by itself with a green salad on the side.

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Aunt Suzy says . . . .

I saw this recipe in Food & Wine this month and since it has fall vegetables paired with some of my favorite aromatics and ingredients, I thought I’d give it a try.  I thought it sounded good, but was delighted by how delicious it was – it way outstripped my expectations!  Of course, I made adaptations – I can’t help but tinker!  I thought this would be too difficult to eat with bucatini, so instead used a my favorite small pasta shape, fusilli bucati.  I think other small pasta shapes would be excellent, or you might want to try the bucatini of the original recipe.  (Actually, I think this would make a great side vegetable dish without the pasta.) You might be inclined to skip the toasted breadcrumbs, but I would advise against this.  They added both flavor and texture and, to me, really made the dish.  A bonus is that this took only about 30 minutes start to finish!  We served this with roasted salmon and an Italian Orvieto white wine.  I will definitely make this again!

Ingredients

The Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
The Pasta
3/4 pound small pasta shapes
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
The Vegetable Mixture
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound cauliflower florets, cut in 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large (about 3 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme
Finishing
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving

Directions

In a small skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1/4 cup of the oil on medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add the cauliflower and brussels sprouts and season with salt and black pepper.  Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the oil to the skillet along with the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, rosemary and thyme; cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat until the cauliflower and sprouts are tender, about 3 more minutes. Keep warm.

Add the pasta and reserved cooking water to the vegetables and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the water is nearly absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup of grated cheese.  Serve the pasta in wide bowls, passing the bread crumbs and additional cheese at the table. (Alternatively, you can skip stirring the cheese into the pasta and add it instead to individual servings along with the bread crumbs.)