Tuna Rotini with Wild Mushrooms, Pancetta, Asparagus Tips, and CHEEZ-IT® Crumb Topping

I'M ALWAYS LOOKING TO UPDATE old school standards of food dishes—like pretty much every other cook and chef out there), and tried to think of something from my school cafeteria days that had yet to experience, by my witness, a culinary upgrade.

As soon as I remembered the almost unfortunate classic tuna casserole, I knew I had to jump on that! As I starting ruminating in my head on what ways I was going to either tweak or overhaul the recipe, I put a shout out on my Facebook status to see if one or two of my friends could help me with my recipe. More than one or two obliged:

KAC: Okay, how should I update a tuna casserole to the 21st century? I'm thinking pancetta, wild mushrooms and asparagus heads...

MBD and ME like this.

SV: Sound pretty good to me!

SV: Everything's good with bacon!

SV: Also, as a binder, use Panko instead of other types of filler.


AF: i'd sprinkle cabrales bleu on top ;)

RH: go tuna-free, or keep it sushi quality and have prior to bread and egg cake-thing.

SV: I like the Sushi-grade thing, but that may be the budget killer. I'm worried that cheese will totally overwhelm the tuna. (cheese and fish don't usually go together, but I've had bacon wrapped scallops that are fab!)

PLW: What I never liked is the mushy-ness. Can you layer it upon some large sweet potato chips?

AA: How's about a deconstructed Tuna Casserole Napoleon? Egg Noodle Carbonara with the Pancetta as the base, Then a Tuna Cake (Maryland Crabcake Style). Top it off with a Asparagus & Mushroom Ragu.

JP: leave out the tuna

KAC: All wonderful ideas! Will make this for lunch tomorrow and incorporate many of these ideas! Has to be tuna, John, but will make this completely legit and modern!

JP: Not my idea of "man pie" sorry goig to miss St Pats Day

PLW: Hey, Kerry, how about a sophisticated, "metro" version of corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's day?

WR: go with a bacon and peanut butter on toasted rye..

SV: [WR], that sounds so yucky it has to be good! Ha!

WR: it's the best !!

KAC: What pasta? Do I use egg noodles or something like mini shells...?

PLW: How about the one that looks like twisted rope? Not Rotelle....is it Rotini? .....OOOH! Or use lasagna! Then, you could really layer it and it wouldnt be so mushy!

PLW: Ohhh! Yeah, and DEF add the Asparagus....and bacon!

LD: I actually liked that shit as a kid, lol, also turkey tetrazzini.

SV: My Mom never made this stuff. I had to learn about it as a starving college student, living off campus, with my southern roommate. We had lots of fun making up recipes!

TM: that 'camping trip' with the weird uncle? the 'choose life' t shirts? phil collins? some things are better left in our collective past, old friend

Then earlier this afternoon, I sautéed shiitake and oyster mushrooms with diced pancetta, and scallions, added some heavy cream, a bit of dijon mustard, some salt, fresh cracked pepper, celery salt, and a dash of nutmeg, then stirred in a half cup each of swiss, fontina, and parmesan cheese until I had a nice, aromatic creamy, gooey sauce.

I then added some asparagus tips and large flakes of canned tuna, (solid white in water—the only way to go!), poured that over some al dente rotini, poured all that into a buttered casserole dish, topped it with some crumbled CHEEZ-IT crumbs, then put that in a 375° oven before commenting:

KAC: Okay, folks, Tuna Rotini with Wild Mushrooms, Pancetta, and Asparagus Tips (and topped off with Cheez-It crumbs!) just went into the oven...! (I used fontina, swiss and parmesan as my cheeses..)

PLW: photos please!

Well, PLW, I'm am only happy, now—a couple of hours and a couple of happy platefuls later—to oblige you...!

Bun Apple Tea!


Tuna Rotini with Wild Mushrooms, Pancetta, Asparagus Tips, and CHEEZ-IT® Crumb Topping