Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do that tuna thang you do so well

I go through phases of omni cravings. For a while it was eggs, and then it was blue cheese. Over the last couple weeks, it’s been tuna. Namely, my mother’s tuna casserole/salad, affectionately known as Tuna Thing. The hot version contained tuna, cream of mushroom soup, peas, egg noodles, and celery. It was also seasoned with curry powder, and all done on the stove. The cold version consisted of tuna, mayo, peas, celery, and dill. I thought I’d start off by trying my hand at a simple tuna hotdish, Minnesota style. I figured the lot of you wouldn’t quite be ready for a curry hotdish, seeing as this is a Down Home kind of blog, so here’s what I made.

First off, despite assertions to the contrary, there is no such thing as eggless egg noodles. Not at all. Stop lying to me. Also, I left the celery out because I never really liked celery much, and it always turns to black mush in the fridge before I get a chance to use it. I chose brown rice pasta, because I like how sticky it gets when cooked, and sauce just hangs right on to it. As for the tuna, I went with TVP with a little soy sauce, Sea Seasoning (nori granules with ginger, but they also have kelp or dulse flakes with garlic), and pickle juice. The flavor was spot on, but the texture wasn’t quite the same. I plan to try this again with something like the Morningstar Farms chick’n strips or Soy Curls. I made the cream of mushroom base from scratch, which took forever, but I also started by making my own stock. If you have a carton of vegetable stock handy (preferably mushroom), go with that. Otherwise, making your own stock is very easy to do.

Down Home Tuna Hotdish
Serves 4-6

1 16 oz.bag brown rice pasta (I used penne, but any small cut will do)
1 cup TVP crumbles, hydrated with hot water
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp pickle juice
Maine Coast Sea Seasoning, to taste (I used about a tablespoon, I swear)
1.5 cups frozen peas
3 tbsp Earth Balance
10 oz (a package) crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 cups hot mushroomy veg stock
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown rice miso
1.5 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup soy creamer
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup breadcrumbs

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and preheat the oven to 375°.
Cook the pasta according to directions.

Make the soup:

Whisk the flour into the broth. Set aside. Melt the margarine in a large saucepan, and add the mushrooms. Turn the heat to low and cover. Slowly cook the mushrooms until they are dark and tender, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms will sweat out some liquid, and you’ll know they’re done. Stir in the broth/flour mixture and whisk out any clumps. Add the miso, and whisk well. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Stir in soy milk. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in soy creamer, and remove from heat.

In a casserole dish, combine the TVP, Sea Seasoning, soy sauce, and pickle juice. Stir in about half the soup, with the peas. Fold in the cooked pasta. Pour over the rest of the soup. Stir, and taste. Adjust as necessary, adding more sea seasoning and pickle juice. Cover casserole, and bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn heat up to 425°. Uncover, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Up close:

With a salad. All those little black things are nori flakes.


herbivore said...

This is totally the kind of thing my mom would be crazy about. Her step-mom made hot dish all the time. She has been having me make chicken salad style things (morning star chikn', veganaise, tarragon, grapes). I will probably be using your cream of mushroom (or cream of whatever it calls for) soup. My mother will be very pleased.

allularpunk said...

this looks pretty awesome! i have found eggless egg noodles, btw... kroger sells a 'pasta noodle' that is shaped just like egg noodles but has the ingredients of their pasta. it's just generic kroger brand, and they're pretty good!

Megan said...

I heard that! But we don't have Kroger here!