Rain in the Forecast signals Comfort Food for me!

We have been lucky enough to get a huge amount of rain this year on the Central Coast of California. It was much needed as we were in a pretty severe drought. So I’m not complaining at all about the weather. But when the skies are gloomy, my go-to meal is some sort of comfort food. One of my all time favorites is a Tuna Noodle Casserole and it just so happened, I had some fresh spring peas in my Talley Farms CSA box this week! So I decided to do an update to my old traditional favorite.

In my new version of a Rigatoni – Tuna Pasta Bake, I decided to use piquillo peppers. They come from Northern Spain and are hand picked then roasted over open fires. The peppers are then peeled, all by hand then packed in jars or tins. The roasting of the pepper gives it a rich, spicy-sweet flavor and I love them! If you don’t have access or want a substitute, you can use roasted red peppers. I paired the piquillo peppers (brilliantly red) with my fresh green spring peas to make a cheesy, creamy tuna pasta bake that was true comfort food all the way!

This is a meal you can throw together in less than an hour and usually from whatever you have in your fridge & pantry. Any small pasta will do. You can also sub in different milk choices or a combination of several. If you’re out of fresh peas, frozen will also do, but won’t be quite as delightful as my Talley Farms Fresh Harvest ones!

Rigatoni Tuna Pasta Bake

Serves 6

  • 12 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup piquillo peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh peas, blanched (or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup shredded Manchego cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cans 6-ounce tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup kettle potato chips, broken into small pieces (I used truffle flavor!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Cook the rigatoni pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Mix in the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, whisking and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the pasta, peas, piquillo peppers, Manchego and Parmesan cheeses and flaked tuna and stir to mix. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and scatter the broken potato chips over the top. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until bubbling and golden on top. Serve immediately.

(click here) for printable recipe

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