• 1 pound extra-wide egg noodles
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup good quality freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion or 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme rubbed between your fingers
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher lats or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup good quality dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried, rubbed between your fingers
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans white tuna fish, drained and flakes

The past few days here in Raleigh, North Carolina have been in the mid 70’s. It has been an incredibly warm winter thus far.

Today winter decided to return and with it my longing for something comforting. Winter, that time of the year when all sweat shirts, elastic band/button-free pants and comfort foods come out!  Last night I made Rachel Ray’s  Tuna Surprise. It was delicious! Like all good home cooks, i adapted the recipe slightly like adding frozen peas, using red pepper flakes in black pepper, and so on. I love the sweetness and fiber it adds.  I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Ray in December at a VIP event before her book signing at Meredith College. Rachel’s new book, My Year in Meals is terrific.

Here’s how easy the recipe was:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for your egg noodles. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of melted butter, Panko breadcrumbs, grated cheese and parsley. Set aside.

3. In a skillet, heat your olive oil and the remaining three tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add your shallots or onions, garlic, thyme and slat and red crushed pepper flakes. Rachel used black pepper.  Saute until tender about 4 minutes. Rachel added a pound of button mushrooms at this point, but I omitted it from my recipe.

4. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of flour and stir for one minute. Add wine than half and half and whisk over lower heat until thickened. Stir in mustard and tarragon.

5. In a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan combine noodles, tuna and sauce.6; Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.

6. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Enjoy!