Oven-Baked Mac-N-Cheese / Tuna Vegetable Casserole

This is a recipe I use time and time again in different forms depending on what’s in my fridge and what my stomach demands. You can use the basic guidelines to make basic baked Mac-N-Cheese with crunchy delicious breadcrumbs on top, or to make a cheesier version of a tuna casserole. This is a great way to get rid of bags of pasta, logs of cheese and cans of tuna that have been sitting around.

A few things you’ll need:

a big ol greased casserole dish

a bag of pasta (preferably macaroni but you can also use penne, bowties, smaller sized pastas)

a log of cheddar cheese (colby or monterey jack work too, but don’t do mozzerella, it’s too stringy)

a more cured cheese (something like parmesan works great, or asiago, but if you don’t mind spending money I highly recommend Manchego. Viva España!)

1-2 cloves garlic

1-2 cups cream

3 tbs butter

3 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup flour

1/2 diced onion

frozen peas

can of tuna

random vegetables (I used zucchini, cherry tomatoes, but you can also use: spinach, mushrooms, thinly sliced potato or broccoli, go crazy!)

and some old bread, bread crumbs, or home-made croutons (recipe to follow!)

First thing you need to do is boil your noodles. Boil those fuckers til they’re al dente (the half-boner of noodles), and then strain them and put them aside, rinse them with cold water so they don’t overcook. This is easy to do while you are also preparing our sauce base.

Just melt your butter and olive oil in a generously sized saucepan. Mixing butter with olive oil prevents the butter from burning, it also gives a more complex flavor to all the veggies and sauce. Add your garlic and onion to the oil mix and as you turn the heat up to medium-low start slowing adding in the flour. This is my version of making a rue which is traditionally just butter and flour, but it is the base for sooo many delicious sauces. Mine is always garlicky because I make it like I’m going to make alfredo sauce. So basically you mix the flour in slowly, bit by bit, and keep stirring as you do so it doesn’t clump up. Once you’ve got all the flour mixed it, start stirring in the CREAM and turn the heat up just a bit, you don’t want it to burn. Add the rest of the cream and keep stirring the whole time, the sauce should bubble lightly and should not be erupting or splattering like a teenage boy.

Once you have the warm, creamy sauce base bubbling in your sauce pan, start grating some cheese in (or if you’re all TOGETHER and ORGANIZED you will have already grated it and can just sweep it gently and smugly into your sauce.) I do a mix of about half the the cheddar and the hard cured cheese until I have a pretty thick and creamy sauce. This is when you mix in the frozen peas (a half a bag to a whole bag depending on how much you love peas, love, unity, respect you dirty hippie), tuna and your noodles. Get everything all sloppy and cheesy and pour half of your mix into a greased pan and give it another layer of grated cheese. Layer your vegetables on top of this with a sprinkle of salt n pepper and then some more cheese. Pour the rest of your creamy mix over the top, top with cheese (especially a bunch of the cured cheese) and handfuls of breadcrumbs, bake in the oven at 425 for about a half hour or until everything is bubbly and golden brown. I like mine really crusty on top so sometimes I’ll bake it at 450 for a bit longer.

This shit keeps so well and ALWAYS tastes good for lunch, dinner, even breakfast (which I am eating it for today.) I like a big cold glass of milk with my warm cheesey, crispy tuna mac n cheese casserole. So fucking good. The vegetable layer in the middle makes it seem healthy and really balances out the carbo-load. This isn’t quite as overwhelming as a Boston Market carbo-fatty version. This is why I love it! Well-balanced, super cheesey, delicious when microwaved, ready to take anywhere. This is a great dish to bring to a potluck, people always eat the shit out of it and make you seem like some sort of food-wizard. I am in love with this super homey & customizable recipe!

Good enough to penetrate. Enjoy!