Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Dill

Serves 6

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only, from 2 large leeks)

1/4 teaspoon celery seeds

Coarse kosher salt, pepper to taste

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

8 ounces wide egg noodles

1/2 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Two 5- to 6-ounce cans albacore tuna (preferably packed in olive oil), drained and broken into 1/2-inch chunks

2 cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips

1. Butter an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and celery seeds to saucepan; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes.

2. Add flour; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk and half-and-half. Simmer, stirring often, until mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Season sauce to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Remove sauce from heat.

3. Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions, until tender, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles, reserving 3/4 cup pasta liquid. Transfer noodles to a large bowl.


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4. Pour leek sauce over noodles. Add grated cheese and dill; stir to blend. Add reserved noodle cooking liquid by tablespoons, as needed, until mixture is moist and creamy. Fold in tuna and transfer to prepared baking dish. (The dish can be made a day ahead to this point. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover with aluminum foil and keep refrigerated.)

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake noodle casserole, covered with foil, until heated through, about 20 minutes (or 30 minutes, if chilled). Remove foil. Sprinkle crushed potato chips over the top. Continue to bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown and filling bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Serve hot.

-- Bon Appetit, 2010; contributed by Janie Harris Kelly