Giant Shell Tuna Casserole
A crusty, cheesy topping, giant shells and half pulses make a healthier take on a homey classic.
For the cheese sauce:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 8 oz milk, 2%
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper, ground
- 3 oz cheddar cheese, white,grated (reserve half for later)
- 3 oz mozzarella cheese
For the vegetables:
- 2 tsp butter
- 3 oz mushrooms, button (thinly sliced)
- 2 oz onion, (finely chopped)
- 2 stalks celery, sliced in ½ lengthwise (finely sliced)
- 2 garlic, cloves (finely chopped)
- 2 oz white wine
For the Assembly:
- 8 oz pasta, giant shell
- 1 can tuna, canned in olive oil, drained
- 4 oz cannellini beans
- cheese, sauce from above
- mushroom, mix from above
- 2 tbsp parsley, Italian (shredded)
- 1 tbsp basil, fresh (shredded)
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- cheese, reserved from above
- 1 cup Panko crumbs
- ¼ cup olive oil, extra-virgin
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
For the Cheese Sauce:
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter until foaming. Whisk in the flour until smooth.
- Add the milk in a steady stream while whisking to remove any lumps. Add the thyme sprigs and cook over medium heat until the sauce has simmered for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in ½ the cheese (reserving the other half for the baking step)
- Set aside.
For the Vegetables:
- In a sauté pan, heat the butter until foaming. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook over high heat until nicely brown.
- Add the garlic and the celery and sauté a few more minutes until aromatic.
- Add the white wine and reduce just until there is no visible liquid in the bottom of the pan. Reserve.
For the Assembly:
- In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the giant shells7-8 minutes or until al dente (still some resistance to the tooth). Pour through a colander and run some cold water over the shells to cool them. Allow to drain thoroughly.
- In a medium bowl, combine the drained tuna, white beans, cheese sauce, mushroom mix and the herbs. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Butter a 9×13 casserole dish and smear the bottom with ¾ of the tomato sauce.
- Fill each of the shells completely with the tuna filling and place on the tomato sauce.
- Drizzle the casserole with ½ cup of water. Dot with remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
- Mix the Panko olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the cheese.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese and Panko are brown and crusty.