Sunday, March 29, 2020

Gluten Free Tuna Noodle Casserole or Chicken Tettrazini

In these strange times when we are all staying home, a lot of people are craving Comfort Food. These foods usually come from our childhood. One of the food that I have been thinking about is Casseroles. They are not something I make often, unless you count Lasagna.  But since we are all cooking from our pantries, I thought about making Tuna Noodle Casserole. I only had this dish a few times at the house of a good friend when I was a teenager. My friend's Mom Mom was from the Mid West and casseroles were something she cooked a lot! I liked her Tuna Noodle Casserole, mostly because of the Potato Chip Topping.  So, she gave me the recipe and it was easy to make with Cream of Mushroom Soup, a little Onion cooked in Butter, cooked Egg Noodles, two cans of Tuna Fish and some frozen Peas. It was topped with crushed Ruffles and was then baked in the oven. 

But, it was  something I never cooked at home, as my Mother didn't eat Tuna and she definitely didn't like Casseroles. But, I had one ex-husband who loved Tuna Noodle Casserole and Creamed Tuna - basically the same recipe minus the noodles and served in Puff Pastry shells. His Mom's recipe, which I adapted used Celery and a dash of Worcestershire and I thought that they were good additions. I like to use Albacore Tuna because of its mild taste, but you can use Light Tuna if you prefer.

Now that I am Gluten Free, I can no longer rely on that can of Mushroom Soup, so I needed to make the Mushroom Sauce from scratch.  While doing this, I realized too that the sauce, if you used Chicken and Spaghetti instead of Tuna and Egg Noodles, was actually very similar to Chicken Tettrazini. And, you would use a bit of Sherrry instead of the Worcestershire and sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on top instead of Potato Chips. This dish is good for using up a Rotisserie Chicken or Turkey from Thanksgiving. It sounds a bit more sophisticated, but really, it's almost the same thing!

All you do is sauté some Mushrooms, Shallots and Celery in Butter and then add in some Sticky Rice Flour and Chicken Broth to make the sauce. Then add either the Tuna or the cooked Chicken along with the Seasonings and the Noodles (I use Gluten Free brands). You can make it richer by adding in some Cream. Then you simply bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes. So here's a recipe you can use two ways to make some comforting old-fashioned dinners!

Gluten Free Tuna Noodle Casserole

2 4 oz. cans of Albacore Tuna packed in water, drained
2 cups sliced Button Mushrooms
1/4 cup minced Shallot or Onion
1 large stalk of Celery, trimmed and minced
1/2 cup Frozen Peas
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Sticky Rice Flour
2 cups of Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup of crushed ridged Potato Chips
2 cups of dried Egg Noodles cooked according to the package directions (I used Double Yolk Gluten Free Medium Noodles)

Butter an 8 x 8 inch square pan. Heat the oven to 375 degrees

In a large frying pan, melt the Butter and add in the Shallot, Celery and Mushrooms. Cook until the Mushrooms are softened. Add in the Sticky Rice Flour and stir to combine. Then add in the Chicken Broth, Water and Worcestershire Sauce along with the Peas. Stir until the Sticky Rice Flour is fully absorbed. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the mixture thickens. Then add in the Tuna and mix it in along with the cooked Noodles.  Pour into the prepared baking pan and top with the crushed Potato Chips. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the Potato Chip crumbs are browned and the casserole is bubbling.

Gluten Free Chicken Tettrazini

Follow the recipe above, except use 2 cups of cooked Chicken instead of the Tuna, omit the Worcestershire Sauce and instead use 2 Tablespoons (or more) of Sherry or White Wine (but make sure you use a bit less Chicken Broth). If you want to make it richer, use Cream or Half and Half instead of the Water. Also use a 12 oz package of Gluten Free Spaghetti, cooked according to the package directions.  And, leave out the Potato Chip Crumbs and top it with 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese instead.  Bake as directed above. 

Five Element Analysis

Casseroles, usually a creamy concoction of many ingredients combined together, are considered part of the Earth Element. The Mushrooms and Potato Chip Crumbs add even more Earth. Tuna brings in the Water Element along with the Worcestershire Sauce and the Egg Yolks in the Noodles. Celery and Peas contribute the Wood Element as does the Chicken Broth. The Metal Element is represented by the Shallots, the Butter and the Rice Flour in the Noodles. Only the Fire Element is missing so serve this with a side salad. 

The Chicken Tettrazini version has similar elements, but it does have more Wood since it uses Chicken, more Metal if you add some Cream, and the Fire Element shows up as that little bit of Sherry or Wine.  

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