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Tuna Casserole

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  • jlix Dec 11, 2006 12:32 AM
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My girlfriend is very nostalgic for tuna casserole but I think I would gag on the can o' mushroom soup variety-- any good recipes?

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  1. you could create your own with a bechamel, some fresh veggies (or frozen peas are always nice), maybe some dill or mustard thrown in there. I don't know about anyone else but I always preferd egg noodles in my tuna casserole.

    1. I have made mushroom sauce from scratch several times, but I've NEVER managed to improve on my mom's dirt-simple tuna-noodle casserole with the canned stuff. If you must, I'd suggest that instead of going the bechamel route you sauté some finely-sliced mushrooms in butter, season them very well, then pour in a cup of warmed cream. Stir this around with a wooden spoon over fairly high heat for ten or fifteen minutes until it's reduced enough so that it's pulling away from the sides of the pan. Then proceed as for the usual tuna casserole: stir in a can of tuna (in OIL, not water, and drained) along with some sautéed onion and perhaps celery, fold into 8 oz. of cooked egg noodles - if you don't make your own, use Manischewitz or Streit's - and pour into a well-buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Top with grated cheese, crumbs, crumbled potato chips or whatever your mom used and put into a 350 degree oven for half an hour.

      I make two additions my mom didn't: I incorporate a beaten egg into the mushroom sauce, and add a half- pound of frozen baby peas to the whole thing before baking it.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        Sounds delish. Do you the canned Mushroom soup as well?

        1. re: Fleur

          I assume you meant to say "do you USE the canned etcetera," to which the answer is yes, usually. That's very much a childhood preference - we actually ate canned mushroom soup (always Campbell's, never Heinz) as soup, and considered it a rare treat - and that particular taste, in conjunction with the tuna and the noodles, is what my mouth expects.

          My wife, who grew up eating classic French and had NEVER had any sort of tuna casserole until I fed it to her, adores it. So score one for the Midwest...

          1. re: Will Owen

            I meant to ask if you used the Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup as well as the cream sauce you made yourself. Would appreciate it if you would post your entire recipe.

            Thanks.

            1. re: Fleur

              No - either a mushroom sauce from scratch OR cream of mushroom soup - sorry for the misunderstanding.

              The basic recipe I use is 12 oz. of cooked and drained noodles; 1 can cream of mushroom soup OR the mushroom cream concoction outlined above; two cans of chunk light tuna in oil, drained; 1 large egg; 8 oz. of frozen baby peas; a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Combine everything but the cheese and pour it into the dish (my mom used to do these laborious layers; so did I until I decided there was really no point). If you've used canned soup this will be quite salty enough; if not, you might want to check for seasoning before it goes into the oven. Spread the cheese over the top - sometimes, just for grins, I cut slices of cheddar and jack cheese and arrange them in a starburst pattern on top of the casserole, alternating yellow and white. Anyway, put this uncovered into a preheated 350 oven for about forty minutes, then let it sit on a hot tray for another twenty minutes or so before you cut into it. A nice little butter-lettuce salad and some bread and butter and wine is all you need to add.

              1. re: Will Owen

                Ah, tuna casserole -- an old Roommate Cuisine staple.

                Will, don't you thin the soup? My understanding is for sauce one adds 1/2 can of liquid to each can of soup.

                1. re: Sharuf

                  Mom didn't thin it, so I don't either. Sometimes I might add a little sour cream, just because I'm that kind of guy...but that's hardly thinning it!

        2. re: Will Owen

          This sounds like what I do - lots of mushrooms, heavy cream added and reduced, I add peas, egg noodles, and add lots of chopped scallions. I also add a lot of tuna - I'd use one big can or 2 smaller ones for 8 oz. noodles.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Excellent, and I highly recommend Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Papardille pasta, along with most of a small jar of ginger (not freshly grated).

          2. I once judged a tuna noodle casserole contest for the Napa Register. This was what the panel of judges liked best. I still make it occasionally.

            “Koldo's Real Basque Tuna and Macaroni Bake”

            1 28-ounce can ready-cut tomatoes
            1/2 cup olive oil
            1 small green pepper, chopped fine
            1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
            1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
            pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
            4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
            1 heaping tablespoon parsley, chopped
            1 6-ounce can tuna, drained
            1 pound mostaccioli or small rigatoni
            2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
            1 cooked calabresi sausage, sliced (see note)
            1 1/2 tablespoons of Mexican saffron (or “colorante” from Spain, if you're flush)
            1 cup frozen peas

            1. Simmer the tomatoes and olive oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the green pepper, onion, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic and parsley. Simmer for about 25 minutes.
            2. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain, but reserve a quart of the cooking water.
            3. Combine the pasta, the reserved cooking water, the tomato mixture and the remaining ingredients in a large lidded casserole, or use a paella pan and cover with foil.
            4. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Uncover, stir once, reduce heat to 200 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.
            5. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
            Note: If you can’t get calabresi sausage, use any hot Italian sausage.

            1. I just saw a tuna noodle recipe in one of my very recent food mags. (I subscribe to quite a few). I will post if I can find it.

              1. There was a recipe in the latest Saveur for tuna noodle casserole. I bet its good!

                1. I use a goulash seasoning packet, from my German market, in my sauce. Adds great character to the sauce.

                  1. The Cook's Illustrated tuna casserole recipe is fantastic. One of the tastiest things I've ever eaten. They use a veloute sauce with fresh thyme and lemon juice. It keeps things light and flavorful.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: maillard

                      I couldn't agree more - they really get it just right. It takes care of the nostalgia, but it tastes so much better. This recipe unfortunately isn't at their online site, but can be found in the New Best Recipe book.

                      1. re: litchick

                        I only have their older Best Recipe cookbook. Can you please post this? TIA.

                    2. The SF Chronicle had a good review of a new book called Kitchen Sense that included a Fresh Tuna Noodle Casserole that I keep meaning to get around to.
                      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                      1. I made the fancy tuna casserole from Kitchen Sense (link in my post above) for dinner tonight. That was kinda fun and everyone liked it. The sauce is quite an improvement on the typical cream 'o mushroom--it had a fresher taste, not that dense processed salted taste, and the swiss cheese was a nice touch. The chunks of fresh tuna are a little strange but work. I wouldn't want to put super premium ingredients into this dish, but I got a pound of frozen tuna at Trader Joe's for $5, and instead of the pricier Gruyere I used 1/2 a chunk of $3 Ementhaler. Everything else I had on hand. It was creamy and satisfying and I think it would be a good compromise dish for you and girlfriend. It reheated pretty well on the defrost setting in the micro for the ones that went back for seconds later.

                        1. My recent favorite is the Epi recipe Farfalle and Tuna, which uses purchased alfredo sauce. Rich, but excellent.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gsElsbeth

                            Yes, that's the one I use too when I have a craving and want something quick. I think the lemon juice and zest are key.

                          2. I like to spruce up my Mom's old TC recipe with Campbell's (never thinned!) by adding:
                            -good shredded aged cheddar
                            -diced celery (or peas)
                            -fresh sliced mushrooms
                            -fresh diced shallots
                            -topped with fresh shredded parmesean

                            I precook whatever noodles I have around, micx in the above & cook it at 350 deg for 30 min or so until browned on top. Yummy!

                            It really isn't the same without the Campbell's, and personally, I like to have a quick and easy comfort food recipe that I can easily pop in the oven after a long day at work. Ill save my homemade cream sauces for something worth the work:-)

                            1. My wife grew up in Minnesota, and she imprinted on the Chicken of the Sea/canned-cream-of-mush/potato-chip casserole her mother put the oven before they went to church and took out when they came back.

                              After a lot of experimentation, we're both pleased with no noodles, chunk light tuna in olive oil (tuna in water=awful), unsalted potato chips (which balance off the salt in the soup and tuna) and lots of fresh frozen tiny peas (get them in the large plastic bags, which are just as good as the fancy ones).

                              I soak a couple of teaspoons of caraway seeds, divide the tuna mix and stir them into my half, and sprinkle a few seeds on top of my side to show which is which. I love it, but my wife's Swedish genes are phobic.

                              A tiny bit of cayenne -- not nearly enough to taste -- livens up the flavor.

                              1. HELLO! FUNNY, I WAS JUST ABOUT TO MAKE SOME BECAUSE I'VE BEEN CRAVING IT MYSELF AND MY MOTHER HAS MADE IT SINCE I WAS LITTLE. I'VE SEEN MANY STRANGE VARIATIONS-BUT I'M SORRY TO SAY THAT NOTHING CAN COMPARE TO THE NOSTALGIC CRAVING FOR THAT GOOD OLD "JUNKY" COMFORT FOOD...WE HAVE UNCLES THAT STILL BEG MOM FOR IT. AND, ITS INCREDIBLY SIMPLE. PROBABLY NOT THE MOST HEALTHY, BUT DEFINTELY THE ALL TIME BEST:

                                2 6 OZ. CANS BUMBLEBEE TUNA IN WATER, CLEANED, RINSED AND SEPARATED, OF COURSE, FOR GOOD WHITE MEAT

                                2 CANS CAMPBELL'S CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP

                                A LITTLE LESS THAN ONE EMPTY MUSHROOM SOUP CAN OF CLEAN WATER

                                1/2 CUP MILK

                                ABOUT 3 TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER (ADD MORE OR TAKE AWAY, DEPENDING ON YOUR TASTE BUDS)

                                ONE PACKAGE EGGS NOODLES (DON'T USE THE NO YOLK VARIETIES-THEY JUST HAVE NO BODY TO THEM)

                                ONE YELLOW ONION CHOPPED AND/OR ONE CUP FRESH CHOPPED CELERY

                                ---> STIR ALL TOGETHER IN LARGE POT ON STOVETOP UNTIL IT IS WARM AND COMES TO A GOOD SIMMER. THEN REMOVE, ADD TO A CASSEROLE DISH, TOP WITH EITHER SEASONED BREAD CRUMBS OR CRUSHED CORN FLAKES (DEPENDING ON YOUR PREFERENCE FOR CRUNCH) AND BAKE AT 350 JUST UNTIL THE TOP IS BROWN AND CRISPY.

                                I'VE SEEN RECIPES THAT ADD AMERICAN CHEESE AND A SPRINKLE OF PAPRIKA TO THE TOP-AND IT SEEMS LIKE A PRETTY DAMN GOOD IDEA TO ME.

                                IT IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO RUIN THIS RECIPE. IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. AND IT COULD NEVER BE COMPARED, TO SAY BAKING A CAKE OR ANYTHING. IF ANYTHING IS NOT TO YOUR PREFERENCE, YOU CAN ADD OR TAKE AWAY. :) ENJOY.

                                1. ------CORRECTION------
                                  OH MY GOD! AND HOW CAN I FORGET, MAKE SURE YOU ADD ABOUT A HALF A BAG OF FROZEN PEAS TO THE STOVETOP MIXTURE. IT'S NOTHING WITHOUT THE PEAS. DON'T FORGET. :)

                                  1. Try adding a can of white wine instead of the water, and then throw in a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. It adds a nice new depth of flavor, but won't alienate those tuna casserole purists.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Entropy

                                      Oops - forgot the Worcestershire! Thanks for reminding me though of course that was not the intention...but in my opinion two Tbs is overdoing it a bit. I never measure, but my "good dash" is probably a bit more than a teaspoon.

                                    2. Can someone please post the CI recipe. I quit getting the mag, and only resort to online access to alleviate magazine build up. I don't need to buy another book! TIA!

                                      1. to the op: if you're making it for your girlfriend, maybe you should make what you'd think she'd like? dunno--just a thought. plenty of times i make stuff for the guy just because i know he likes it.

                                        we never had tuna noodle casserole when i was growing up, so i lack the nostalgia thing for it, lol. but it's so easy to make, and i bet she'd appreciate that old fashioned version a whole lot more.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          hotoynoodle, I agree completely. I make my husband his mom's mac and cheese "recipe" often because he just loves the stuff (I remain underwhelmed). Who am I to judge what someone else is craving?

                                        2. My mother NEVER made this, but my husband's mother made is all the time and HE loves it. This is why I am asking. I would love to make it for him, he would be pleasantly surprised.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: personalcheffie

                                            personalcheffie, I too would like to see the Cook's Illustrated recipe for tuna casserole. Here is a link to a recipe with a VARIATION for tuna casserole, from America's Test Kitchen, but is there a different one out there?
                                            http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/1...
                                            I've tried this one, it's good, but tone down the thyme a bit, this is tuna, not turkey. (Scroll to tetrazzini, there's a variation at the end.
                                            )Meanwhile, if litchick or maillard or someone has the recipe from the "..New Best Recipe" for tuna casserole? TIA of course!

                                            1. re: BangorDin

                                              Here you go!

                                              From the "New Best Recipe" (p.294)

                                              TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE

                                              12 ounces fettuccine broken into thirds
                                              6 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                              10 ounces button mushroom caps sliced sliced 1/4 inch thick
                                              2 medium onions, minced
                                              1/4 cup flour
                                              2 cups low-salt chicken broth
                                              3/4 cup milk
                                              1 tb lemon juice
                                              1-1/2 cups thawed peas
                                              1/4 cup minced parsley and 1-1/2 tb chopped thyme
                                              2 cans tuna

                                              Make the topping by toasting 1 cup of fresh bread crumbs, salt, and 1-1/2 tb unsalted butter at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, cool.

                                              Heat oven to 450. Boil pasta until al dente, drain.

                                              Saute mushrooms in 2 tb of butter with onions, salt, and pepper and cook until moisture evaporates and onions soften. Set aside.

                                              Melt 4 tb butter, add flour, and whisk until golden brown. Still whisking, add chicken broth and milk. Raise the heat and cook for about 5 minutes more until it thickens. Remove from heat and add 1/2 tsp salt, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.

                                              Combine sauce, pasta, tuna, peas and mushrooms, add salt and pepper. Put into a buttered 13 x 9 inch baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes or until topping is browned and casserole is bubbling.

                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                Great, thank you Rubee! I hope personalcheffie see this too.

                                                1. re: BangorDin

                                                  Yes, thanks a million! Love Chowhound! Thanks guys.

                                                  1. re: BangorDin

                                                    Yes, thanks a million!

                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                    Rubee...what are the servings on this? I'm assuming 8? I may just have to fudge this and add sherry.

                                                    1. re: personalcheffie

                                                      Sorry - I should have put that in. Serves 6.

                                              2. My version sorta of changes with whatever is on hand. We love the quick old school kind of Tuna Casserole, the one we grew up with.
                                                Egg noodles =3 cans of tuna, drained, 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 1 medium onion chopped small dice, 2 Tbls celery chopped fine, 1 small bag of frozen petite pois cooked, about 2 cups of milk, dash of sherry
                                                parsley, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. A cup of grated cheddar cheese.

                                                Boil the noodles and reserve, cook the peas-reserve. Mix all the liquid ingredients and with the dry, and parsley. Saute the onion and celery seperately and then mix with the sauce. Add the sherry last, not too much. Cover with the grated cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or untill bubbly.

                                                1. I never liked my mom's tuna cassarole too much until I realized that she used potato chips in the recipe. It was simple. Layer cream of mushroom soup, canned peas, tuna and then crushed potato chips. End with chippies!!! I know it does not sound like much, and quite possible it is pure nostalgia, but it is quite good. Bake at around 350 degrees until heated through and the chippies on top are a tad browner.

                                                  1. We always used cream of chicken in our house and no potato chips.

                                                    1. Make the standard mushroom soup recipe, but make sure to use albacore tuna, add sherry, slivered almonds, and peas. Top with Durkee's fried onions. Haven't made this in years, but it's mighty good.