Tuna Noodle Casserole

TunaNoodle1

It may be questionable that Tuna Noodle Casserole qualifies as a choice for Fish Friday, but it does have fish in it, and there isn’t any meat in so it should, right? Yes, I think so too.

I don’t recall ever having Tuna Noodle Casserole so much when I was a kid that I learned to hate it. On the contrary, it’s one of my favorite casserole dishes and when I have it now, which is not often, it’s in that same category of menu items that Macaroni and Cheese is in – comfort food.

Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole

This classic recipe is easy, almost too easy. During the 60s, at least in my family, it was important to feed the family quickly and cheaply. This recipe made that happen.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:
8 ounces – about half a package of medium or wide egg noodles – cooked and still warm
1 can of tuna, drained
1 can of condensed Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can of peas, drained (these days I’d recommend a cup of frozen peas instead)
Bread crumbs
Optional: shredded Cheddar Cheese

Directions:
Cook the noodles as directed on the package.
In a large bowl:
Add the drained noodles.
Add the drained tuna.
Add the drained peas, or the frozen ones.
Add the can of condensed soup.
Add the shredded cheese if you have it.
Mix.

Butter a casserole dish that is deep enough to hold the complete mixture.
Transfer the mixture from the bowl to the casserole.
Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs.

Note: If you don’t have bread crumbs, substitutions might include crushed saltine crackers, or if you want to move into the 70s, either crushed Wise potato chips or healthy wheatgerm.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes with the casserole lid on, then another 15 minutes with the lid off.

kimba’s New Take on Tuna Noodle Casserole

These days I don’t eat too many things out of cans, and I enjoy trying to develop new recipes for old standards. So this is my take on Tuna Noodle Casserole, the way I made it for the photograph above.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:
About 8 ounces of spiral/fusilli pasta, cooked al dente, so it doesn’t get too soft later in the oven, and drained
1 large can of tuna
About a 1/4 of a bag of frozen peas or however many peas you would like
1 small to medium onion, chopped into small squares
6-8 big clean, randomly chopped mushrooms, or however many you like
About a 1/4 cup of one of these, shredded: Ementhaler, Gruyere, Swiss, Jarlsberg, or Cheddar cheese
Some shredded Parmesan cheese if you have it
Non-fat milk
2 spoonfuls of flour
butter
Ground Pepper to taste
Dried Basil to taste
Dried Thyme to Taste

Directions:
Cook the pasta as directed on the package. Don’t forget to make the pasta al dente.
You can add the frozen peas to the pasta just as it’s finished. This will thaw them out and help stop the pasta from overcooking.
In a large bowl:
Add the drained pasta and peas.
Add the drained tuna.

Making the Sauce:
Melt a bit of butter in a saute pan.
Add the ground pepper, dried basil, and dried thyme.
When the butter is hot, add the chopped onions.
Saute the onion for a few minutes.
Add the chopped mushrooms.
Saute until the mushrooms are letting go of their liquid and the onions are almost clear.
Add these vegetables to the pasta, tuna, and peas, saving the liquid in the saute pan.
In the saute pan, add a little more butter and make a roux with the flour.
Once the roux has cooked a little, start adding the non-fat milk to make a white sauce.
Once you’ve thinned out the sauce, add the cheese – add both to taste and to thicken the sauce – stir until cheese is melted and blended into the sauce.
Simmer until the sauce thickens a bit.
Add the sauce to the pasta, tuna, peas, onions, and mushrooms in the mixing bowl.
Mix.

Butter a casserole dish that is deep enough to hold the complete mixture.
Transfer the mixture from the bowl to the casserole.
Top the mixture with bread crumbs and/or wheat germ and the shredded Parmesan cheese if you have it. If not, shred some more of the cheese that you put into the casserole and sprinkle that on top.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes with the casserole lid on, then another 15 minutes with the lid off.

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