Tuna Noodle Casserole

March 9, 2009 | By | COMMENTS

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The chat went something like this.

Craig-At-Work: What’s for dinner?

Me-At-Home: I’m thinking of making a tuna noodle casserole.

Craig-At-Work: Ugh. If I never eat a tuna noodle casserole again for the rest of my life, that’d be ok.

Me-At-Home: Well I’ve never had one before so I’m going to make it, just for the sake of writing about it.

[Silence.]

Me-At-Home: Are you there? Hello? HELLO?

Craig-At-Work is no longer online.

There are certain advantages to growing up in a family where every meal is either eaten out or ordered in: those classic American dinner staples–lasagna, meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole–aren’t sources of dismay and torture, they’re not the psychological equivalent of prison food; no, they contain a patina of newness, of excitement, of Ozzy-and-Harriet all-American wholesome charm.

I think of lasagna as a special treat, a happy marriage of meat and cheese and tomato sauce. And meatloaf? I love it, I think it’s great. The less fancy it is, too, the better: I like it with a layer of glazed ketchup on top. No foofy reduction sauce for me, thank you very much.

But tuna noodle casserole? I only knew it as a punchline, the kind of thing you’d hear on an old episode of “Roseanne” (Darlene: “This chili doesn’t taste like anything.” Roseanne: “You’re lucky it’s not tuna noodle casserole.”) I’d somehow avoided tuna noodle casserole my entire life and now, finally, I was going to make it.

My reasons were two-fold: (1) times are hard (in case you haven’t noticed) so it would be cheap and plentiful; and (2) my friend Emily Farris wrote a book called “Casserole Crazy” that I really wanted to try.

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I actually ran into Emily outside of Alchemy in Park Slope and I asked her which casserole I should make first. “Tuna noodle,” she said. “It’s a classic.”

After my discouraging chat with Craig, I headed to the store to buy the ingredients. I must admit that when I came home and spread them all out on the counter, they made me a little nervous:

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It wasn’t so much the tuna or the noodles or even, really, the peas. It was the cream of mushroom soup and the potato chips. I felt like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman were going to beat down my door and wonk me on the head.

Still, they might’ve shown restraint if they knew the one optional ingredient I skipped out on: Salsa Con Queso Cheez Whiz. As Emily writes, “This version of the classic tuna noodle casserole is my aunt Susie’s. Her secret ingredient is the Salsa Con Queso Cheez Whiz, but if you’re just not willing to go there, Parmesan will do just fine. Or skip the cheese altogether. A ‘real’ classic tuna noodle casserole doesn’t call for any cheese.”

The assembly and cooking of this casserole couldn’t be easier (which is why, I’m sure, it’s such an American staple.) Boil 1 bag (12-oz.) of egg noodles until just al dente. Mix the cooked noodles with 1 (16 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup (I had two cans b/c I could only find 10 oz. cans), 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 (6 oz.) cans white albacore tuna drained, 1 large white onion (chopped), 1 16 oz. package frozen sweet peas and salt and pepper. Lay it all in a 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole dish.

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I have to make a confession here. In tasting this unbaked mixture to see if the seasoning was right, I REALLY liked it. Like way more than I should have. Somehow the uncooked tuna, the cold (still frozen) peas, the raw onion, the cheese and the just-cooked egg noodles worked some kind of magic in my mouth that let me ignore the gross, glue-like mushroom soup that was also mixed in there. If I ever reinvent a tuna noodle casserole (a subject I’ll get to again at the end of this post), a raw food version might not be out of the question!

Into the oven it went–375 F–for 35 to 40 minutes (until bubbling.)

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Out it came and on went the coup de grâce: crushed potato chips (a few handfuls.)

Back into the oven it went for 10 minutes and it came out looking like you see in the picture at the very top.

Craig came home around now and he was not very happy. I convinced him that this’d be a better version than the one he grew up with (sorry Craig’s mom!) and prepped him a bowl:

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Lucky for Craig’s mom, my fatal mistake was the one I bragged about earlier: leaving out the gooey cheese. “Where’s the cheese?” asked Craig, digging in.

“I used a little Parmesan,” I answered.

“Usually a casserole has lots of cheese.”

Indeed, this cheeseless casserole was kinda soulless and, for my tastes, a little too tunafishy. Someone on Twitter said they don’t like tuna noodle casserole because they don’t like “hot tuna.” After this first experience, I can relate: hot tuna just doesn’t hit the spot the way cold tuna does.

But Emily must be commended for making the casserole so approachable and so easy; her other recipes look way more up my alley, so I’m not done with Casserole Crazy, yet, no sirree. And in hard economic times, it can’t be denied that casseroles are a smart–almost inevitable–thing to make to feed a large family well or even just two people over the course of a week.

As for the tuna noodle noodle casserole, am I done with that? Here’s the thing: I’d like to take it upon myself to reinvent it, to rethink it, to come up with a better version. One thought is to build off the idea of a Salad Niçoise: what if you mixed the egg noodles with the tuna but then you added capers, anchovies, cherry tomatoes, slightly cooked haricot vert, and maybe even a hard boiled egg? What would glue it together? That’s the part I’m not sure about. But it might be worth tinkering with.

Or what if, as suggested earlier, you made a tuna noodle casserole pasta salad. So you cook penne instead of egg noodles and then add a can of tuna, barely cooked peas, chopped red onion, olive oil, and maybe some garlic and a splash of vinegar? I bet that’d be really good. And no potato chips or cream of mushroom soup required.

Perhaps I should have a contest: a Reinvent The Tuna Casserole Contest. What would the prize be? Maybe a copy of Emily’s book? Emily, are you reading this? Can we give your book away as a prize? Will you help judge?

Share your entries in the comments and let’s see what happens!

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Categories: Misc. Entrees, Recipes

  • Wendy

    This isn’t a reinvention, just a comment. My mom’s recipe for tuna noodle doesn’t involve any cream of mushroom soup, just a basic white sauce with plenty of cheese. I like it with lots of peas, especially the crunchy top layer. I think I’ll have to make some this week – yum!

  • http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.com/ Megan

    Minus the cheese, chips, and onions… these are the ingredients my mom used when we were little. However, she would mix the mushroom soup, tuna, and peas together in a pot and boil egg noodles in another pot. We would pour the tuna mixture over our noodles (and season the whole thing with some salt and pepper), rather than have a “casserole.” Also, some nights, we would forgo the noodles and pour the tuna mixture over toast. However you make it, I strongly suggest peas!

    You could also drop the soup and make something more like mac and cheese, add the tuna, peas, some tomatoes… bake it all up… sprinkle bread crumb on top, broil… and eat!

  • http://teaandcookies.blogspot.com Tea

    I grew up without casseroles as well (hippie childhood, not takeout). Didn’t have meatloaf until my college dining hall—and I agree, it can be really good.

    The mom of the family I babysat for when I was a teenager would make tuna casserole. Hers calls for canned soup, a big glob of mayo, AND cheese—a ton of it! I still make the recipe every couple of years, it’s total retro comfort food. The key to loving it is that I didn’t eat it all the time while growing up.

    I’ve got another tuna noodle recipe as well. Count me in for the contest!

  • http://www.heythattastesgood.com jill

    I, too, did not grow up eating things like tuna noodle casserole. I love it. I made it for the first time a year or two ago, and yum. I put a lot more cheese in mine, leave out the chips in favor of breadcrumbs, and leave out the peas. If you have a contest I will make it again, I might just anyway!

  • http://lesjoujou.blogspot.com Stephanie

    I’ve never had Tuna Noodle Casserole probably because I hated tuna as a kid and refused to eat it. The recipe you used does sound kind of disgusting to me (especially the chips and optional cheese whiz). Your other cold options sound really good especially the one with penne as I have never really liked egg noodles.

  • http://thankswiki.blogspot.com Regina

    I’ve never eaten tuna casserole either (to be honest, I was excited when you were talking about it on Twitter, and I’m disappointed that it didn’t really work out, because I was looking to pop my tuna casserole cherry [ew]), so take this with a big grain of salt, but what about swapping out the tuna for another fish, or substituting chicken? Thinking outside the box, or straight-up cheating? You decide.

  • http://www.whatzerkitty.com zenzele

    My mom was always a great cook, so even when she made tuna casserole, it came out great – not very “cheesy” at all. We didn’t have it enough so that I get sick hearing about it. Interestingly enough, I made it twice, after not having it for over twenty years. Still good to me.

  • Curt

    I love tuna noodle casserole! Though I usually make a lazy, unbaked version. As Wendy noted, making your own white sauce is absolutely worth the extra 5 minutes or so.

    Personally, adding good olives, garlic and a little hot sauce make me happy. Also, instead of mixing the cheese in, try a layer on top and let it broil up to toasty-brown, cheese-y goodness. Mmmm.

  • http://yulinkacooks.blogspot.com yulinka

    Here’s a recipe for a delicious-sounding tuna noodle casserole: http://haverchuk.blogspot.com/2005/07/tuna-casserole.html

    I nominate this for whatever the prize is!

  • http://devourthis.typepad.com Jackie

    I could do you one worse. A comfort food from my childhood that I still (secretly) enjoy: Velveeta shells and cheese w/a can of tuna mixed in.

    Tuna casserole reinvention contest sounds fun, should we post our recipe in the comments?

    also, if you want your raw food version of tuna noodle casserole would need sashimi-grade raw tuna…this could be interesting…

  • http://notconcentrating.typepad.com sabele

    The tuna casserole I grew up with was originally called “Tuna Lasagne” in the casserole cookbook my mother got for her wedding, even though it calls for the ever-present can of cream soup. She always made it with regular egg noodles (way easier to deal with), and the invention of pre-shredded mozzarella cheese definitely made it even easier.

    Mom never let us add potato chips, though. That was the sad part.

  • j2wade

    My grandmother apparently made a particularly disgusting version of this and even uttering the words ‘tuna’ and ‘noodle’ in the same sentence could turn my Dad several shades of green, so there was NO tuna noodle casserole in my house growing up. I’ve always been a little curious about it, but I think I draw the line at potato chip topping.

  • Anna

    I admit I loved my mom’s tuna noodle casserole (which was made without onions, potato chips or cheese) and would not want to reinvent something already so good! It was one of the first things I learned how to cook by myself, and I could eat it all the time. If you liked it so much better before you baked it, perhaps you could eat the leftovers cold? That’s what I used to do (before I stopped eating fish). Yum yum.

  • andrenna

    I just can’t go there yet! That canned mushroom soup is just too gross.

  • Lympicita

    I often make a pasta bake, but I use a good, well flavoured marinara sauce and top it wil lots of cheese.

    I’ve tried store bought sauces, and to be honest, Home made is always better. If you make a huge batch of home made sauce and have some ready in the freezer this takes little time.

    This is am easy peasy dish that I make for when friends are over. I just cook a green vegetable or a crisp green salad and it’s a fab meal for a damp Wednesday when people pop in for dinner.

  • Scott

    There are already lots of “reinvented” recipes on the net; better than the ones made with canned soup. Make your own white sauce. I like to add some diced mushrooms, and finely diced carrots and celery too. I use lots of cheese. In addition to parmesan, I like to mix in some shredded cheddar, and add a topping of more cheddar at the end, along with a layer of bread crumbs instead of potato chips. I do love it with potato chips on the side, and a big tall ice-cold glass of milk.

  • http://vegetarianmama.com Dawn

    Well, since I’ve gone vegetarian I leave out the tuna and we eat this as a side dish… but my husband thought it was so much better than every other TNC that he started calling it “Super Tuna Noodle Casserole” to keep it separate from all the rest! (But it is still very much TNC!)

    Ingredients:

    1 14ish oz box Whole Wheat elbow noodles – cooked

    2 cans tuna* – regular tuna, packed in oil (I think it tastes better)

    2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

    1 cup frozen peas

    1/4 cup butter

    1/4 cup flour

    2 cups milk

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    1 tablespoon parsley

    Light dusting of bread crumbs (optional)

    Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then slowly add the milk. Turn the heat to high. Allow it to come to a boil and allow to boil for one minute all while whisking continuously. Add in salt, pepper, parsley, peas, tuna & half the cheese.

    Mix with the noodles, dump into a casserole dish, top with the remaining cheese and the (optional) bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake at 425 until golden brown… usually another 10-15 minutes.

    *We used to make it with chicken sometimes too!

  • Tim

    Adam, the best way to make a tuna noodle casserole, and I make it all the time, is to make a traditional mac and cheese, then once you have baked the mac and cheese, and right before serving, add the tuna. You can add frozen peas, or mixed vegetables to the mac and cheese before baking, but the key is to add the cold tuna to the hot mac and cheese. I agree with Craig, needs more cheese.

  • Laura

    I would love to re-invent this dish, I love tuna noodle casseroles! However, my husband won’t go near tuna with a 10 foot pole so a re-invention won’t happen. I think I once had a version with those french onion things (the crispy things) on top…yum!

  • Mer

    I made tuna casserole last night for supper! It’s not super duper great but it’s easy and it fills you up.

    Jackie- I’ve done (and sometimes still do) the same thing!! My husband loves it!

  • Wendy

    I’m allergic to seafood, but I still remember tuna noodle casserole from my childhood. We never used canned cream of mushroom. Only a homemade white sauce with a little sherry and mustard for the flavor. If I could still eat seafood, I’d try making a shrimp or lobster stock to use in a Veloute Sauce with some dry sherry and a small dice of onion, celery and sweet bell peppers. Instead of potato chips I’d prob. use fresh bread crumbs mixed with parmesan, lemon peel, fresh ground pepper and sweet butter.

  • http://cookingandkitchenstories.blogspot.com Kate

    I never had tuna noodle casserole growing up either, probably because my mom never made anything with “cream of _____” soups, and I still haven’t eaten it because I can’t get beyond the thought of warm tuna fish.

    We did have an awesome tuna pasta salad a lot growing up, especially in the summers. I still make it often, and it fits your criteria for cheap and easy. I think my mom made it when she didn’t want to turn on the stove or oven. Basically, it is any short pasta (I think she used those mini shells the most), tuna fish, light mayo, celery chopped, onions chopped, a splash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. You could add in cooked and cooled peas if you want, but I like to keep my veggies on the side.

  • Kristi

    Oh dude. I’m sorry, but just say no to cream of mushroom soup! Friends don’t let friends top their casseroles with potato chips! (Can you tell my mom never made tuna noodle casserole either? But she did make a wonderful cold tuna pasta salad with mayo and celery which, oddly, I have never actually made myself.)

    Here is what I have learned from making tuna casserole on my own: Homemade white sauce, with or without onion/garlic/mustard/mushrooms/carrots/sharp cheddar cheese/a dash of red pepper flakes thrown in, and topped with seasoned bread crumbs is the way to go. Peas are key (or even chopped broccoli). Surely you could sub chicken for the tuna, or use less tuna so it’s not so tuna-y; you can also use elbow macaroni, penne or spiral pasta in place of egg noodles. It is also awesomely delicious eaten cold out of the fridge if you don’t like it hot.

    On a related note, have you ever tried Elise’s pasta with tuna and arugula? It’s a staple at our house, though we usually sub baby spinach for the arugula and add artichoke hearts and grated Locatelli. And it’s great eaten cold too.

  • http://casserolecrazy.com Emily Farris

    Hey Adam,

    A few things:

    1. I think the contest is a great idea! I will totally help judge and promote it.

    2. Maybe—if he’s ever willing to try “hot tuna” again—Craig would prefer my “Grown-Up Tuna Noodle?” Hold the Cheez Whiz and potato chips, add artichoke hearts and Parmesan cheese. (Page 120)

    3. If you ever do try Classic Tuna Noodle again, I suggest using the other crunchy topping option: French fried onions.

    4. And I hate to admit this one but the 16 oz. is a typo that the copy editor didn’t catch. Soup doesn’t come in 16 oz cans (that I know of) though more soup is not a bad thing. It will be fixed in the next printing.

  • http://www.cookedbooks.blogspot.com Rebecca

    I love tuna casserole. But instead of cream of mushroom, just make a bechamel sauce. I think Tom Valenti has a good recipe for TNC in his book Soups, Stews and One-pot meals.

  • http://thesaucydish.wordpress.com Sarah

    Tuna Noodle was a necessity, along with frozen fish sticks in my Catholic household during Lent. My mom still makes the stuff from time to time when she gets a craving, but I’m fairly certain a real white sauce would greatly improve it…good quality canned tuna would probably go a long way too.

  • Elizabeth

    Grew up on tuna casserole. dont know the exact measurements mom used but they way I make it on occasion (about 2 times a year) is:

    1 chopped onion

    1/2 chopped bell pepper

    1 small jar of pimentos, drained well

    2 cans chunk light tuna (think albacore is bad in this recipe though it is what we eat at all other times)

    2 cans cream of mushroom soup

    milk (dont measure but probably 1/3 cup or less)

    Boiled egg noodles

    shredded extra sharp cheddar

    salt

    pepper

    Saute the onion and bell pepper in a little butter until soft.

    In a baking dish mix soups, 1/2 of the cheese (probably around 1/2 cup) and milk until blended.

    stir in the onions, peppers, pimentos and tuna and noodles. Season with salt and pepper

    Bake at 350 until it starts to bubble. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and put back in oven until bubbly and just slightly browned. Can mix in a few bread crumbs on the top if you like.

    I completely disagree with some of the other commentors. Do not waste your time with a white sauce for this dish. this is 50′s and 60′s quick, housewife food. If you are going to make a white sauce then make something else. This is all about the cheap ingredients :-)

  • Amanda :}

    i’m going to agree with alot of people and say go with the bechamel for the hot TNC. i’ll also agree with alot of people and say cold tuna pasta salad is good eatin (with mayo, celery etc).

    but i’ll have to disagree with alot of people’s contempt for cream of mushroom soup… i too, did not grow up with casseroles, because i wasn’t born in america (although i grew up here). about two years ago my co-workers were appalled to find out i’d never had green bean casserole, so i was forced to make it for our thanksgiving potluck “exactly like the recipe on the can!” and i love it! it’s a guilty pleasure but hey it’s mostly beans, right?…

  • http://terrymtz.tumblr.com Terry Mtz

    My Mom’s tuna noodle casserole was a mixture of not one, but TWO Campbell’s condensed soups (cream of mushroom and cream of celery), two cans of tuna and cooked egg noodles all mixed together with slices of American cheese on top.

    Yes, it’s gross. Yes, I crave it (sometimes…) anyway.

  • http://tokyoastrogirl.blogspot.com/ tokyoastrogirl

    I grew up eating both tuna casserole and tuna macaroni salad, and both were dishes I LOVED as a kid. My blog is called Tuna Toast for a reason- I love TUNA in any form really. I agree with you on the canned soup….my parents never used it and I have to admit I’m not nuts about it.

    For a great tuna noodle salad- use penne, or even whole wheat penne, like you said, or corkscrew pasta. Boil until al dente, and then in a seperate bowl make the “dressing” with GOOD mayonnaise, a dollop of dijon mustard, a couple of tablespoons of relish (it is KEY!), a couple of tablespoons of capers and lots of pepper, plus salt to taste. As with any mayo dish, use it sparingly at first- you can always add more later depending on how creamy you like it. I perfer mine only slightly creamy. Anyway, toss the coooked pasta in a large bowl w/ this dressing, finely diced celery, red onion and chopped flat leaf parsley and even some finely diced tomatoes that you’ve squeezed the liquid out of. It’s fantastic. Honestly. I know- the mayo and relish scare you but it’s so great…..a wonderful summertime dinner.

    Now that said, you can take the SAME mixture minus the celery and tomato, add grated sharp cheddar cheese, pour it into a casserole dish, top with panko and dot that with butter, then bake. It’s great too, and you don’t need to use any canned soup.

    Hope you like these. It isn’t like anything else I ever cook in my adult life, but both are just really well-rounded dishes. I think you’ll like it. And Craig might too!

    :)

    TAG

  • http://tokyoastrogirl.blogspot.com/ tokyoastrogirl

    Shoot- forgot to add frozen peas to the baked version. Those are a must in any tuna casserole!

  • Anonymous

    Here is the easiest recipe for tuna casserole ever (and the one that Craig grew up eating). I make it probably once a week. I love it! You get big payoff for minimal effort and cost. In my mind, the worth of tuna casserole lies in its being fast, cheap, and easy. I don’t think it’s worth trying to gussie it up with expensive ingredients, or ingredients that take any preparation time whatsoever. It wouldn’t be worth it. It is still just tuna casserole, after all.

    Into a casserole dish, dump:

    1 c. elbow macaroni noodles (uncooked)

    1 can cream of mushroom soup

    1 can regular (not albacore) tuna (drained)

    1 c. milk

    1 c. grated cheddar cheese

    Mix together. Cover with more grated cheddar. Bake at 350 for an hour. (If you want, you can add frozen peas or chopped fresh broccoli 10 minutes before it’s done cooking). Done and done.

    (And to end on an especially depressing note…..women of childbearing age and especially pregnant women should not eat more than one can of tuna per week because of mercury. Even less if you use albacore tuna. It has higher mercury content.)

  • Kristin

    Here is the easiest recipe for tuna casserole ever (and the one that Craig grew up eating). I make it probably once a week. I love it! You get big payoff for minimal effort and cost. In my mind, the worth of tuna casserole lies in its being fast, cheap, and easy. I don’t think it’s worth trying to gussie it up with expensive ingredients, or ingredients that take any preparation time whatsoever. It wouldn’t be worth it. It is still just tuna casserole, after all.

    Into a casserole dish, dump:

    1 c. elbow macaroni noodles (uncooked)

    1 can cream of mushroom soup

    1 can regular (not albacore) tuna (drained)

    1 c. milk

    1 c. grated cheddar cheese

    Mix together. Cover with more grated cheddar. Bake at 350 for an hour. (If you want, you can add frozen peas or chopped fresh broccoli 10 minutes before it’s done cooking). Done and done.

    (And to end on an especially depressing note…..women of childbearing age and especially pregnant women should not eat more than one can of tuna per week because of mercury. Even less if you use albacore tuna. It has higher mercury content.)

  • Lisa

    Hi!!!

    My revision is SO good and cheap and can be used for multiple meals, but no one reading it would think so. It’s warm rice and garlicy spinach, with cold tuna. You have to have faith (just like when you mix a can of pea soup and a can of tomato soup with lots of curry powder. It’s good too.)!

    Lisa’s Tuna Casserole

    Ingredients:

    Two 6 oz pouches of tuna

    One sleeve of saffron rice

    one tbs of olive oil

    two teaspoons of minced garlic

    one packet of steamable frozen spinach

    First you put the spinach in to steam in the microwave and take a mixing bowl and put the garlic in the bottom, letting it rest and the oils come out into the bowl (I use a metal mixing bowl for this, something about the metal makes the oil come out better)

    Then you make a packet of saffron rice with the olive oil (not butter).

    When the spinach is ready, put it in the bowl on top of the garlic and stir it through. The heat of the spinach will really make the spinach soak up the garliciness. Then add the warm rice and loosely stir them togther. Finally, open the tuna pouches (there shouldn’t be much water in them) and pour the tuna into the spinach/rice mixture and fold it together.

    It’s very good, in my opinion. And very simple. And very cheap.

  • beth

    don’t like hot tuna either. yuk,

    can substitute cooked chicken for tuna

  • Dorothy

    I’m sure this isn’t true, but sometimes your posts make Craig seem like an ungrateful ass. I would be thrilled if my husband had tuna noodle casserole waiting for me when I got home.

  • kath the cook

    loved the post – I too didn’t have tuna casserole growing up, but Mom made others. I love me some casserole. I even make TC once a year or so.

    I hope Craig enjoyed the Ajax dish soap topping in addition to the potato chips, ha!

  • Anonymous

    I love seafood (LOVE), but I HATE HATE HATE canned tuna. Hot, cold, doesn’t matter. (Tuna sashimi on the other hand…yum!) Am I alone in this?

  • Kate

    Didn’t mean to post anonymously there. I’m totally out about my extreme dislike of canned tuna.

  • zeep

    My my your stovetop is practically sparkling these days AG!

    I’m going to have to side with the “just say no to potato chips as a casserole topping” crowd, but the dish overall looked like a perfect example of tasty, easy-to-prepare comfort food.

    Hey, weren’t you a judge at a casserole contest awhile back? I guess you have the credentials :) keep on keepin’ on Adam.

    Cheers!

  • http://www.savour-fare.com Kate

    My mother makes a delicious tuna casserole with munster cheese and sliced almonds as a topping instead of potato chips. I’m trying to figure out if that takes away the purpose of tuna noodle casserole as a potato chip vehicle or if that modernizes it. Either way, I’m off tuna casserole after a disastrous crockpot experiment. Don’t like hot tuna? Hot tuna that has been making your kitchen smell like tuna for 8 hours and mixed with hot mayonnaise is truly gorge inducing.

  • http://lifewithsugar.blogspot.com Indeo

    Before the food network existed, I produced a cable access cooking show that specialized in food with “questionable nutritional value.” Spam, cool whip, cheez whiz, jello (sweet AND savory…jello with canned beef, anyone?), “mock” apple pie (made with NO apples, but lots of Ritz crackers), “Elvis, the man and his food”…well, you get the picture. Tuna noodle casserole was a quarterly event, on the show. The most popular version resembled your casserole, minus the peas, onion, parmesan and potato chips. We always added a bag of shredded velveeta, and topped the casserole with crunched saltines drenched in butter. I even found academic research on “food habits and tuna noodle casserole toppings.” Apparently, your geographic region is defined by your topping preference (saltines, potato chips, bread crumbs, cheese, etc…) Ah yes, the good ol’ days…great post!

  • piccola

    Definitely the salad version – hot tuna *is* weird, unless it’s in a tuna melt (which is probably why cheese is the answer for the casserole).

  • barrie

    Also from a non-TNC eating childhood but my mother did fairly frequently make a version of the pasta salad with tuna which I remember as being quite good. I think there were also chickpeas in it. She was prone to using multicolored rotini so I imagine it was that al dente with canned chickpeas some version of a vinaigrette, red onions, some garlic and possibly cherry tomatoes so Daddy could have them and I could pick them out ;-) She has long done quick pasta salads where the pasta is just cooked then everything is immediately added and plated so you get the cold tuna/hot noodles you experienced when you were tasting for seasoning. My favorite has always been the mixture of just snipped from the garden herbs with al dente pasta, chickpeas, a very sweet vinaigrette and just fried Canadian bacon.

  • screaser

    The secret missing ingredient:

    Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

    Seriously. Add a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste, and you got a whole new casserole experience!

  • http://reasonablymodest.blogspot.com/ Chiara S.

    I cooked on Fridays for about twenty people during my junior year at the very small Catholic college that I attended. I refused to serve fish sticks, so I did creative things with tuna instead. The best was to steam up a plentiful amount (say 4 cups)of broccoli, drain it, then saute a lot (3-5 cloves?) of minced garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet then add the broccoli, get it sizzling and stir in three or four cans of tuna (any kind; I only had chunk light to work with, but white would probably be better). Then I would splash in more olive oil and lemon juice for good measure – maybe two tablespoons of each(capers are good here too, if you have them) – sprinkle with salt and pepper, saute that for a while and then in the hot pan mix in carefully however much al dente penne 8 cups dry boils up to. Pour that into a pan and sprinkle it liberally with parmesan and finally lay slices of mozzarella over all and pop it into the oven for say twenty minutes until hot and melty. The result is delicious, not overwhelmingly tuna-fishy and the whole affair takes about forty minutes. The nice thing, too, is that you can substitute other vegetables for broccoli or canned salmon for the tuna and still have good results.

  • http://www.sweatermuffin.com Eva

    Oh Adam, I was so disappointed when I glimpsed those ingredients…..

    Tuna casserole doesn’t require a lot of cheese, but it requires simple, clean flavors and high-quality ingredients. I suspect others have said the same above, so I apologize in advance for any redundancy.

    Firstly, I really prefer to use the best canned tuna around. NOT the grey-looking dust in most brands (I’m looking at you, Chicken-of-the-Sea). Trader Joe’s has excellent tuna, for example. I think there are a lot of Italian brands that are nice, too. Canned tuna should be PINK, not grey. This will help that problem of the whole thing being too fishy, as this stuff tastes mild and, well… more like fish should taste.

    Secondly, that canned soup… blech. I know it’s “traditional” (i.e., part of the 1950s Wave of Convenience that swept our great nation), but it really shouldn’t be. A very simple bechamel does the trick nicely. I like to add lots of black pepper because the pop of it seems to suit the tuna well, and not too much salt (the tuna will be salty, even if you use unsalted canned tuna). Bechamels are easy and they give you a creamy sauce (yielding a gratin) without being too heavy or over-flavored, like that soup. They also don’t require an inordinate amount of cheese, but *can* accommodate it.

    Finally, the crunchy top is completely optional, but for god’s sake, potato chips?!

    I like peas in mine. I also like broccoli, or occasionally spinach (or even chard if I’m feeling healthy).

    Sorry this came out as more of a rant than a recipe… I really adore good tuna casserole, so I hate to see it done such an ill turn by the evil that is Cream of Mushroom Soup.

  • Tiffany

    I make tuna noodle casserole all the time. I don’t use the cream of crap soup, but rather make my own white sauce and then add in sauted onions and mushrooms, canned peas, and diced water chenuts.

    I’ve also found that rinsing the tuna fish in a strainer under water makes it taste less fishy.

  • Tiffany

    I make tuna noodle casserole all the time. I don’t use the cream of crap soup, but rather make my own white sauce and then add in sauted onions and mushrooms, canned peas, and diced water chenuts.

    I’ve also found that rinsing the tuna fish in a strainer under water makes it taste less fishy.

  • http://www.haikubytwo.com Alison

    I love hot tuna

    dare I say? Yes, it needs cheese

    and all that’s creamy….

    Mmmmmm….. tuna noodle casserole…. it deserves a better reputation!!! But for some reason I can not see this comfort food at the restaurant of a top chef graduate.

  • Kay

    My sister and I did most of the cooking when we were growing up and TNC was in our usual rotation. I am surprised that nobody has mentioned Worcestershire sauce which was always part of our recipe…never any cheese. I must say I can barely stand to think about it and I really don’t want to eat it!

  • Boeufdaisy

    I’ve always believed that if you have nothing good to say, keep it to yourself. So I will say nothing about tuna noodle casserole, except to hope that Craig knows no divorce lawyers.

    On the other hand, if you want to play with meat loaf and its guilty pleasures: Instead of topping it with ketchup, try mixing a can of tomato soup with a very generous helping of Worcestershire sause and pouring it over the loaf before baking…. yum.

  • Elizabeth

    I love tuna casserole–I’ve tried making it with white sauce and find that a waste of time. The two things that make it better for me are using albacore tuna and adding a tablespoon of curry powder.

    But, hey, if you don’t care for it, that’s cool–all the more for me!

  • candice

    My husband makes a really good tuna casserole from scratch. I make a super quick and easy one for weekday dinners:

    1. Make Mac ‘n Cheese – I choose Annie’s.

    2. Sautee onion and the tuna (salt & pepper to taste). (optional: add cream of mushroom here)

    3. Mix 1 & 2 together.

    4. Add frozen peas — they will melt on their own.

    Eat.

    No oven required.

    I have to say though, I do love tuna casserole. But I also like tuna melts — in other words you have to like warm tuna & melted cheese for any of these to work for you.

    On another note, I think I saw a cook on the Food Network, make a really fancy tuna casserole once — using fresh tuna & a bechamel sauce to fancy it up.

  • LisaInCT

    Whew…. LOTS of viewpoints on TNC. I’m with you Adam, better as a cold pasta salad.

    Though I did get a good laugh when I saw your pic of the ingredients… when exactly do you add the “lemon” Ajax dishwashing detergent? :)

  • Carolyn

    I have a recipe that I LOVE!

    •1 medium onion, finely chopped

    •4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    •10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (4 cups)

    •2 teaspoons soy sauce

    •1/4 cup Sherry

    •1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    •2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

    •1 cup whole milk

    •2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

    •1/4 teaspoon salt

    •1 (6-oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained

    •6 oz dried curly egg noodles (about 3 1/4 cups)

    •1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)

    •4 oz coarsely grated Cheddar (1 cup)

    •1 tablespoon vegetable oil

    Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

    Cook onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with a pinch of salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add mushrooms, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to sauté mushrooms, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Sherry and boil, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Remove from heat.

    Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

    Cook noodles in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles in a colander and return to pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly.

    Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss again, then sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

  • http://atherosclerosis.blogspot.com/ mina

    …so, did he like it?

    actually i grew up loving tuna casserole but maybe that was because my mom garlic’d the bejesus out of it. also, i was fat. ):

  • Julia

    I’ve been re-reading MFK Fisher, a little before bed every night, and she has a very irreverent and yet still epicurean way of reinventing French dishes with California ingredients, tweaking the recipes and sort of giggling behind her hand while she does it. I think she would’ve cheered you on in this revival effort, but she probably would’ve insisted on a bechamel instead of the Elmer’s soup, there.

  • http://theprojectivist.blogspot.com/ the projectivist

    i’m quite relieved that even though the Ajax featured in the photo of ingredients

    it didn’t actually make it to the final cut.

    hilarious!

  • Ross

    What exactly does “patina of newness” mean? :-P

  • Col

    How about making a tuna puttanesca casserole? Would split the difference between a nicoise (cooked eggs & green beans could get nasty with all the other stuff in there, methinks)

    get a nice Italian pasta — maybe radiatore, penne, bucatini cut in pieces, whatever floats your boat

    make a “puttanesca sauce — tomato base with capers, anchovies, olives, maybe 1/2 tsp chili flakes (I know you are sensitive to spice so maybe just 1/4 for a little warmth)

    then throw in the tuna, make a nice topping of homemade breadcrumbs (SO EASY) — and ecco-la!

    and BLAM! a

  • http://whatilikenyc.blogspot.com Laura [What I Like]

    On nights when my mom went on strike with respect to cooking dinner and my dad had to pick up the slack, we would have one of the four dishes in his repertoire, one of which was a very competent tuna noodle casserole (the others were brocolli with soy sauce and ginger, pasta with ham, white sauce and frozen peas, and floured and fried chicken or orange roughy). He always made a white sauce (with no cheese), added the tuna, possibly threw in some frozen peas if we were at the age that we would eat them, mixed in cooked noodles, and then sprinkled lots and lots of parmesan cheese over the top (which made sense, as his three favorite condiments are fruit cocktail, parmesan cheese and Lawry’s Seasoning Salt).

  • http://mrswskitchen.blogspot.com Amanda from Mrs.W’s Kitchen

    Adam, bravo to you for not snubbing the casserole and giving it a try.

    I didn’t grow up with TNC, either, and enjoy it when my sister-in-law makes it, as I believe another commenter mentioned above:

    macaroni & cheese, prepared according to box

    can cream of mushroom soup

    frozen peas (eyeball)

    milk (for thinning, as needed)

    It isn’t baked, just stirred together on the stove–delish!

    If I were to try it, I’d probably make a homemade white sauce with tuna added (but not white albacore–the regular tuna for this one for a stronger tuna taste), green beans, salt and white pepper tossed with egg noodles; I think if it were baked with a garlic-sauteed panko breadcrumb topping it would be good, or topped with crispy shallots. Ooh, yeah–I like the crispy shallots better! That would sort of make it a cross between TNC and green bean casserole.

    P.S. I’m with you on the meatloaf: just a ketchup glaze for me!

  • http://foodeatenlifelived.blogspot.com Lainey

    i love your nicoise idea. what if you used ricotta or even a bechamel sauce to bring it all together.

  • http://www.bangingonpotsandpans.blogspot.com Kasie Bennett

    My husband would be in HEAVEN if I made this. I make a point to cook using fresh, seasonal ingredients, avoiding processed foods as much as is humanly possible. To my surprise, when I asked him once if there was anything I didn’t cook that he really wished I would make just for him, he replied with “tuna casserole”. His mom made it when he was a kid, and to him it screams comfort food! I still haven’t tried it, but it’s coming some day soon!

    If I were to reinvent tuna caserole it would definitely be cold with bowtie pasta, capers, feta, red onions, and fresh dill. Homemade mayo with a spoonful of really good spicy brown mustard and chopped sweet pickles would round it out. Mmmm…I kind of want that right now.

  • Anonymous

    I make a tuna casserole without a sauce at all. I saute garlic, onion, carrot and celery and peas with good olive oil. Then i mix in cooked rotini, the tuna and lots of fresh parmesan. Then transfer to making dish and cook until brown on top. Might sound bland, but it’s so delicious and simple.

  • JudyH

    I’m with Craig on this one.

  • http://knitswithasilentk.blogspot.com Kim

    That’s pretty much my mom’s tuna noodle casserole, except she never used potato chips. I don’t think there was a crispy topping on hers. I love it, even down to the evil cream of mushroom soup (yes, we all know you can make your own bechemal sauce, but the point of this recipe is convenience, hence convenience foods!) My husband, though, disagrees and says macaroni is the noodle of choice in the casserole, and adds corn in addition to peas (also no topping) – the corn adds a kind of sweet note. If we’re having “fancy” TNC, then we saute some sliced mushrooms and add them in too.

  • Meg

    Maybe I’m alone in this, but my mom made excellent lasagna and this incredible, moist maple Meatloaf, which many people have told her is the best they’ve ever tasted.

    I hate tuna, though, so thankfully Mum never made it. However, when Dad was cooking, he sometimes made deplorable “creamy” Tuna Helper (like Hamburger Helper, but with tuna). It was disgusting!

  • Laura in WY

    I was one who never had it growing up, and hated tuna fish as a kid. As I got older, I realized how wrong I was, and now I love tuna of all kings – tuna fish, tuna steak, tuna in sushi, etc. I use America’s Test Kitchen recipe – I’d link to it, but I just have it in a cookbook at home. If you’re a member, go to their site. It does NOT use canned soup – canned soup is usually a bad idea, IMO. It’s really very good.

  • http://www.bridgetcallahan.com Bridget

    The best way to make tuna casserole is to make mac and cheese the way you normally would (I mean, from scratch, not the box), and just add tuna, peas, garlic, and mushroom soup to the recipe. Also, topping it with really good chips is key. I use jalapeno chips from Shearers.

    I’ve converted everyone to my tuna casserole. No exceptions.

  • barb

    here’s a tuna salad recipe per my future mother in law. everyone who has tried loves it. so simple and homey, good warm or cold.

    2 cans of tuna

    1 lb of elbow macaroni

    4-5 hardboiled eggs

    Miracle Whip

    French’s Mustard

    Sweet pickle relish

    Cook the macaroni and eggs. Then transfer the pasta to a large bowl and crumble the eggs into it and mix. Add the tuna and relish and mix again. Now add you mayo until it is as creamy as you like. Then do about half that amount of mustard.

    Yeah its real white trashy like…but oh so good.

    seriously. try it. you’ll love it!

  • Zhopsik

    No, no NO! Entirely too foofy. The whole point of tuna casserole is that it’s old-fashioned garbagy comfort food. No bechamel, no zotzing it up with garlic. 86 the onions, use fewer peas, or leave ‘em out entirely. Cream of mushroom soup is the base line, but you can use cream of practically anything else. And throw in a can of cheese soup as well. Top with breadcrumbs if you must (NO potato chips!), but it’s normal to use those silly little wrapped up cheese-product slices. TRASSST me on this one: you’ll want to tear off your clothes and roll in it.

  • http://www.gourmetgirlmagazine.com Elaine – The Gourmet Girl

    Unless you are a fan of Sandra Lee and desire to be just like her, this is not ‘cooking.’ The amount of sodium in those canned soups, tuna and chips (What the heck are chips doing in tuna casserole?) will kill you.

    Like you I didn’t grow up with some of the dishes that you mentioned (check out my bio) however, whatever mom made didn’t come from a can (tunafish is an exception). It is this type of ‘cooking’ that has pushed us to the brink and beyond of obesity.

    Our children need to learn what healthy eating and cooking is and that IT CAN BE DONE, even if you lead a busy lifestyle.

    Congratulations on achieving a star for a successful semi-homemade meal.

  • Anonymous

    Funny I wasn’t the only one who caught the Ajax thing and commenters funnier than I remarked about it first. :P

    It was the cream of mushroom soup and the potato chips. I felt like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman were going to beat down my door and wonk me on the head.

    I had a similar thought. And ew!

  • http://aloshaskitchen.blogspot.com Melissa

    That was me. I hate being anonymous accidentally.

  • Rebekah Peterson

    I love tuna noodle casserole! My mom would always make it for my brother and I in the winter. The best, however, always came in the summer with tuna noodle salad. Oh, it is so good. Cold tuna, yum!

    So, it is very close to what you describe in your post only with mayo–that takes the place of cream in the hot version. My favorite is very basic–although you could dress it up too and it would be so good.

    Its basically 2 cans of tuna, miracle whip (or mayo)- but miracle whip makes it tangy, 1/2″ cubes of sharp cheddar (a block), peas (a bag), celery (6 or so sticks- in 1/4″ slices), pasta shells (1 box), salt and pepper to taste.

    Boil the pasta and rinse with cold water to cool. Add to pasta: drained tuna, peas (don’t need to be boiled–just throw in from the freezer), celery, cheese, mayo, salt and pepper. Add about as much mayo as you would add to tuna for a sandwich. Add salt and pepper.

    As you can see, you can add as much or as little of the ingredients as you want to.

    And the best thing ever is snacking on the little cubes of cheese while you make it. So good on hot summer days–especially served on crisp romaine.

    Ohh…I think I need to go make some now!

  • Megsny

    I have always made mine like yours with the following adjustments: Healthy Request soup (it all tastes like glue, so why not the lower sodium, 1/3 fat version?) + the use of an oven-ready sauce pan so I can cook up a lot of garlic first, then add everything else and bake until crispy. Also, real bread crumbs (from bread, not a can) instead of potato chips.

    Now that I’ve sworn off canned soup for a while, I’ll do bechamel, still with lots of garlic. This isn’t a dramatic reinvention, but my favorite tuna melts are on rye bread, so I vote for throwing in some caraway seeds, too. Garlic and ryeness should make the hot tuna more tolerable.

    I fear this is already too long a comment, but must add that my guilty 1950s favorite is my grandma’s macaroni salad: macaroni with miracle whip, tuna, finely diced onion and pepper, and the magic secret ingredient of canned crushed pineapple. How can something that sounds so wrong taste so right?

  • Angeline

    I would do a Japanese inspired tuna casserole.

    Layer raw or lightly seared sushi grade tuna slices (that have been marinated in a little bit of soy sauce) with sushi rice (“the noodles”) and then topped with chopped up nori (the green stuff, aka “peas” and bits of tempura bits or toasted panko bread crumbs (the crunch, aka “potato chips”).

  • tom

    That congealed canned mushroom soup, gag!

    I couldn’t tolerate recipes for tuna casserole that included that ingredient growing up.

    The best came when a friend found a recipe (and I can’t remember where it came from) that basically replaced the canned soups with a 50/50 mix of good mayo and sour cream, to equal the amount of soup required (in “traditional” recipes like yours). And instead of crushed potato chips, bread crumbs sprinkled on top. Other than that, I think you would essentially follow the recipe that you used, with all other ingredients and cooking methods identical.

    Believe me, that tuna casserole is unbelievably delicious…and even for skeptics/mayo haters, the sour cream balances the mayo flavor such that you will love it as a hot comfort dish. Really, it will make you forget the congealed mushroom soup version forever.

  • http://acoupleinthekitchen.blogspot.com Amy

    My mom’s recipe, which I shamelessly admit my husband and I enjoy quite often, has no cheese or onion. It calls for an addition of one soup-can of milk instead of two cans of cream of mushroom. And, instead of potato chips? Crumbled Saltines. Gotta love casseroles…

  • http://cookbookjunkie.blogspot.com/ paula

    I’ve made a similar tuna-noodle casserole but I thought that this recipe was just as simple and even better:

    Orecchiette with Tuna, Lemon and Caper Sauce.

    It’s pasta, cream, lemon juice, tuna, capers and few other ingredients. It’s just as simple but creamier than the traditional tuna noodle casserole and you don’t need to bake it.

  • http://carnality.wordpress.com cs

    No entry, just adding my $0.02. Like others, this is pretty much the exact recipe I remember having, and still occasionally make.

    Growing up we never really the western staples either, no meatloaf, lasagne, and the first exposure to tuna casserole was when my sister made it from her home ec class homework recipes.

    Although I don’t do the chips thing, and no Parmesan. Just a heaping handful of shredded cheddar on top, covered, bake until melted, and then uncovered and baked a bit more.

    If you have problems with ‘hot tuna’ – what about Tuna Melts? Toasted bread (I like foccacia) with tuna/mayo/onions and/or celery/maybe some fresh herbs and lots of melty cheese.

    I seem to have been sidetracked.. must be getting close to lunch!

  • http://digitaleccentric.blogspot.com/ Leslie

    A couple of years ago Saveur published a comfort food issue with a great tuna casserole recipe. White sauce from scratch and no cheese. I double the amount of tuna, and I use panko for the topping.

    http://www.saveur.com/food/classic-recipes/tunanoodle-casserole-54242.html

  • http://liquidsunshine-ck.blogspot.com/ CK

    I’m a big fan of the Joy of Cooking version of tuna noodle casserole but with more vegetables (onions, mushrooms, frozen peas, broccoli, and peppers). I use panko instead of making my own bread crumbs, too.

    I guess I should specify: I mean the new Joy of Cooking released in 1997. Many reviewers panned this version of the book because the recipes no longer called for things like cream of mushroom soup. For my money, the white sauce in the recipe tastes better and isn’t much more work to make.

    Enjoy!

  • Kathleen

    Hi Adam-

    Here’s my contribution. I promise the actual mushrooms, celery, and water chestnuts give it the flavor it needs and the crunch it REALLY needs. I think it balances out the creamy cheesy fat of this odd casserole- but this dish was a childhood favorite and perhaps still my favorite food. I don’t use albacore, just regular tuna in water. I hope you will give Tuna Noodle Casserole another chance, I’m terribly sad you didn’t like it.

    4 cups pasta, uncooked

    1 cans tuna fish, drained

    1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

    2 cups grated cheddar cheese

    1 can sliced mushrooms

    1/3 cup milk

    2 teaspoons mayo, optional

    1-2 teaspoons salt

    ¼-½ teaspoons pepper

    ½ cup chopped celery

    1/4 cup chopped onion

    Cook noodles. While they are cooking, mix all other ingredients- add the milk last to control consistency (which should be odd an gelatinous, not runny. Drain noodles, Add to mixture. Place half of the mixture in casserole dish, and top with 1 cup of cheddar. Layer on the second half of noodles, and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

    Good luck!

  • Samantha M.

    Tuna casserole was never served at home when I was growing up, but over the years since then I have worked out a version I like.

    Like a lot of people here I make it with a proper white sauce, I don’t use too much cheese, I like to add a dash of horseradish to the sauce or some mustard mixed in can be nice too. I use corn kernels instead of peas. I like to fry the onions and I like to add mushrooms if I have them and fry those up first too.

    It has to be tuna in oil if you are using tuna I find the water packed one looses too much flavour. You don’t want too much tuna and I like to keep it in chunks so don’t stir everything too much.

    Top with mountains of bread crumbs and dot liberally with butter so you get a nice crust on the top.

    I think half the fun with this dish is the different textures and sudden bursts of taste. The crunchy buttery bread crumbs, chunks of juicy salty tuna, the squish & sweetness of corn (or peas if thats what you like) all against the softness of noodles melting into white sauce.

  • LeAnne

    I must say Adam, I got REALLY CONCERNED when I saw the picture of the ingredients sitting on the counter and hoped that the Ajax dish detergent in the back was not one of the “secret ingredients”. I’ve never been fond of tuna noodle casserole, nor is my husband, and have not made it for many, many years. It was a staple in my mom’s house in the 60′s and early 70′s. I think it would be better made with chicken instead of tuna, or maybe even canned salmon. Just not tuna. Tuna is definitely a cold food item.

  • Lindsay

    Tuna Noodle Casserole of my youth

    6 oz. egg noodles noodles

    1 can chunk light tuna fish, drained

    ½ cup mayonnaise

    1 cup sliced celery

    1/3 c chopped onion

    ½ tsp. salt

    1 can cream of celery soup

    ½ cup milk (skim)

    1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

    1/2 c. slivered almonds (optional)

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Cook 6 oz. using package directions; drain.

    In a large bowl, combine noodles, one 6 ½ or 7 oz. can chunk light tuna fish, ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sliced celery, 1/3 cup chopped onion, and ½ tsp. salt.

    In a saucepan, mix one 10 ½ oz. can condensed cream of celery soup and ½ cup milk; heat through over low heat. Add 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup); heat and stir till cheese melts. Add to the noodle mixture.

    Turn into 2 quart casserole.

    If desired, top with ½ cup toasted slivered almonds.

    Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

    Makes 6 servings. Recipe doubles well.

  • Robert

    Try a Stouffer’s frozen Tuna Noodle Caserole, go from there. Fish and cheese don’t work together and potato chips are for alongside a sandwich. Try buttered fresh breadcrumbs.

  • Chris

    I reinvented the tuna casserole for myself a few years ago. In place of tuna I use a packet of salmon. I use cream of asparagus or cream of broccoli instead of mushroom. If I happen to have veggies like broc or asparagus on hand I’ll finely chop them and add. And the coup de grace of it all is to use French’s Fried Onions instead of potato chips. Cheddar flavor, if you can find them. I’ll even throw a handful IN the casserole as well. So good!

  • Suzanne

    Your recipe for (canned) tuna with pasta, garlic, lemon zest, butter, olive oil, parm. cheese and capers is one that I make almost every week! I don’t add the capers because I am the only one who likes it but this recipe is a great one!

  • Eugene

    A trick i use for crispy panko bread crumbs on the top of the cheese layer is to melt butter and toss the bread crumbs in it w/ a small amount of salt before spreading them onto the casserole.. then bake to golden brown!!! the panko crumbs toast up nicely, and would be the only crumbs i would use.

    MMM yummy!!

  • http://lovefeasttable.com LoveFeast Table

    Inspired to recreate a hot, hotdish! Added, celery, peppers, cumin, and Death Valley Potato

    Chips on top!! Even, better reheated the next day!

  • Melissa

    Like another poster, I’ve had the pasta with veleeta cheese and tuna. It’s not bad, it’s super easy and very old-school, comforty like. Sometimes, that can be a good thin.

  • Eireann

    Growing up, my mom made this with almost the exact same recipe, but substitute the chips for cheddar cheese. We actually layer the cheese (pretty thickly) on top and put it in the oven for the whole cooking time. The cheese gets all wonderfully cooked. It’s a cheap and easy dinner with a bad reputation, but it’s definitely a taste of childhood for me.

  • http://gutsandshame.blogspot.com CarrieP

    My mom used to make cold tuna noodle casserole when I was a kid. Even now it’s one of my top ten foods. Mix the following to taste:

    Cooked elbow macaroni

    Canned tuna

    Mayonnaise

    Canned peas

    Cubed cheddar

    Salt & pepper

    so so so good!

  • NewlyRawVegetarian

    Hello! Did you ever create a RAW food version of Tuna Noodle Casserole? I would love to have the recipe!!

  • flynn

    I totally agree that this should taste nice before it’s put in the oven! I don’t like peas in most things, but everything else here is pretty savory, so they’re a nice addition. I like a bit more texture with mine. I’ll add chopped water chestnuts, chopped and sauteed celery, maybe a bit of green bell pepper along with the onion. Sauteed mushrooms are pretty great here, too.

    In the weirder ingredients category, I like the sharpness of cheddar cheese, and for an additional bit of tang I’ll put in a bit of lemon juice or sour cream when I’m mixing it up. I also like some capers in it to up the saltiness ’cause … it’s already super decadent so why not?

    I feel like if you grew up with either breadcrumbs or potato chips you’re probably going to prefer one over the other, but they’re both pretty good. Similarly, it’s different but tasty with non-egg noodles if you’re not into that texture. I also add enough black pepper to make anything taste like food ;)