SIMPLE MADE HARD
Could be the title for this blog piece. Honestly. I am a danger to myself. Here I am on a damn cold and windy day, wondering what house project to tackle, or perhaps, an old novel that could be taken out and dusted off. Making comments in the margins counts as writing, right?
But, no, the lure of the kitchen sucked me in. As usual. I got out my Weight Watchers cookbook to see if they had a decent recipe for tuna casserole. Side note: My husband and I have been cooking ridiculously complicated and often undigestible meals (for me, at any rate) from--Blue Apron, then Plated, and soon to be given a try--GreenChef, vegetarian. Because of this spate of fancy-dancy, elite cooking (Trump would hate it), I couldn't just make a simple tuna casserole.
If you've ever done Blue Apron, you know that any recipe will use every single bowl in the household, every utensil, each chopping board, and at least 4 pans. So--I got out two cans of albacore tuna, assessing how seriously dead the meat looked inside and thinking I really should never, ever buy this stuff again which is ravaging our oceans. Then, laden with guilt and staggering slightly I found some egg noodles which had only expired 2 years ago, set the kettle to boil, and got ready to make noodles.
Meanwhile, I looked at the WW recipe, which was rather loathsome as they were using frozen peas, frozen corn, and a can of mushroom soup (mushroom soup! Are you kidding???) and more. I couldn't do it. My gourmet heart would shrivel to the size of a walnut. I remembered I had some fennel stalks in the fridge, from when I made the Mediterranean Shrimp recipe, and I got those out and chopped them into smallish pieces. As the noodles were boiling, I cooked for 5 minutes some chopped fresh carrots to use in the vegetable layer of the casserole which I was rapidly inventing. I also toasted 2 slices of my home made sourdough wheat bread to use for breadcrumbs later on.
Vegetable Layer: swoosh a tad of butter, a splash of olive oil, turn on the heat, and WE'RE OFF, sauteing onion and garlic, fennel, later adding the carrots for 10-15 min., and giving all a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end, along with a handful of fresh spinach for kicks.
Sauce: melt 2 tablespoons in a medium size saucepan; heat to boiling point almost 2 cups of 2% milk in microwave. When butter is melted, stir in 2 heaping tablespoons of white flour--stir--then add heated milk, whisking steadily until thick.
Spices: Add about 2 tsp. of za'atar (I can't help it, it's my favorite new spice), a pinch of curry, and mix. Put in handful of fresh, chopped parsley and delicately sprinkle a small amount of "Chrystal Louisiana Hot Sauce" into the mix. Turn off heat. All burners are turned off now as I drain the cooked noodles. Then I took my home made toasted sourdough wheat bread and grated it into small crumbs against a box grater, trying to avoid shredding the blue plastic gloves I am wearing, to protect my recent manicure with "Bodega something." By now I can feel sweat beginning to accumulate above my eyes, and I think my nose is about to run. Perhaps I am allergic to complicated recipes?
Assemble: spray Pam on inside of 4-quart casserole: spread layer of noodles on bottom. Top with half of cooked veggie mixture; then half of tuna, and pour half of sauce on top. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a bit of cheese. Next layer do the same, topping it all with more breadcrumbs and cheese. Cook in 350 degree oven for at least 1/2 hour, while you stagger to the couch, drink cold tea from this morning, and groan softly. Really, I needed to make it so damn complicated? Bet it will be good, though. I'm ready for comfort food. And clearly I have no spoons left to drive through windy, freezing weather to go to Mass. Sorry, God. Out of spoons.