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Tuna Casserole

  • j

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!