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Serves 4

Meals in Lent do not have to be dull or expensive. This tuna-noodle casserole is dressed up with the flavors of bay leaf, shallots, peppercorns, Dijon mustard and Gruyere cheese.

2 cups milk

1 bay leaf

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2 cloves garlic, divided

¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons flour

½ cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried dill weed, crushed

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 shallot, peeled and minced

1 can (6½ ounces) tuna, drained

2 cups small shell noodles, cooked according to package directions

½ cup dry breadcrumbs

1. Combine milk, bay leaf, 1 whole peeled clove garlic and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat; allow to sit 10 minutes.

2. Make a roux by melting 2 tablespoons butter in a 1½-quart saucepan over medium heat; stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook one minute. Strain hot milk into roux and stir until thickened, about four to five minutes. Stir in cheese, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, mustard, dill weed and salt.

3. Toss mushrooms with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 9-inch skillet. Add mushrooms, 1 clove minced garlic and shallot; cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir into sauce.

4. Stir tuna into sauce; add cooked noodles and stir to combine. Transfer to a buttered 8-inch square pan that can take the heat of a broiler; sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle 1 tablespoon melted butter over crumbs. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil; brown top of casserole, about three to five minutes.

—From The Seattle Time archives, 2010

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