I read a recipe in Elizabeth Fuss’s blog Lizzy Dishes Portland for a creamy dill tuna casserole, and it haunted me. I’ve never really LOVED tuna wiggle….but the way this recipe was presented, with fresh herbs and roasted tomatoes, I thought it couldn’t lose.
The thing that first caught my eye was the use of panko breadcrumbs. For years I’d heard chefs sing the praises of the panko, but I never drank the cool aid. Then one day last month I broke down and used panko breadcrumbs to top my mac and cheese recipe…..it changed my life. LizzyDishes changes my life….with two little words: Panko. Breadcrumbs.
With the advent of spring, I’ve decided to try and clean out my freezer by sorting/tossing and using as much as possible. I’ve had a side of Tony’s smoked salmon in my freezer for a year now. It’s just lightly smoked, so not suitable for putting out as an appetizer a la carte, but good for salmon fettucine and the like. So, when I looked in my carb drawer and found a pound of orchiette pasta, my mind flashed back to LizzyDishe’s Tuna orchiette casserole, so I decided to try my own twist on it…and the main objective was to NOT go to the store, so I made plenty of substitutions/omissions on the original.
Here is my take on Lizzy’s recipe:
Smoked Salmon Orchiette Casserole
2 T. olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
1/4 pound lightly smoked salmon
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 cups uncooked orecchiette pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 c. shredded Brick cheese (can substitute cheddar, etc.)
1T. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor seasoning
2T. Johnny’s Great Ceasar seasoning
Fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Add a handful of salt and the uncooked pasta. Cook for 2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time.
Meanwhile, in a skillet saute olive oil and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 4-5 minutes, until tender. Add the salmon, cream, and Penzey’s spice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat.
When the pasta is done (2 minutes less than recommended coking time), reserve one cup of pasta water. Drain the rest of the water off and add the pasta to the skillet, along with the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine. Add 1T Johnny’s seasoning. Let simmer over medium heat until sauce is thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup of Brick cheese and remove from the heat. Pour pasta mixture into a casserole dish.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese. season with remaining Johnny’s seasoning. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta mixture. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
This served my family of 4 with leftovers for the in-laws!! YUM!!