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Casserole - but uncooked noodles? Recipe?

  • k

I have a bachelor friend (about 50 y-o) who does not like to cook, but realizes he has to have some sustenance other than McDonalds or Long John Silvers. He is very picky, near as I can tell. Like, not many veggies other than maybe a tossed salad or corn. Now, he emailed me the other day and said he remembered his mom making tuna casserole, and did I know what canned soup she might have used in it.

I told him my preference for tuna noodle casserole was cream of mushroom, but second choice would be c-o-celery.

Then he emails me back and says, Well. All the recipes I am finding tell you to cook the noodles first, then stir into the rest. "And that's too much trouble for me."

So, CHs. Can you make tuna noodle casserole, in the "three or four cans and dump it all in and throw in oven" method, WITHOUT boiling the noodles first? I know there are methods for lasagna with uncooked noodles going right in with the sauce .. but I've never worked with uncooked pasta that way.

Understand, this is a guy who hates to cook, doesn't understand anything foodie (AT ALL!) and just wants to have a supper that might recreate what his late mother might have made him years ago. .. tia!

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  1. Well, he could go to an Asian market and buy refrigerated noodles that are precooked and would work. Something tells me this guy is not an Asian market type of guy, however. Maybe he would be amenable to cooking a whole pound of noodles and freezing some for a futre use? This works well.

    The first time I accompanied my son's Scout troop to summer camp as an Assistant Scoutmaster, I had the duty of overseeing dinner prep. The boys used laminated recipe cards that had been used by the troop for many years. One of them was a chicken and rice casserole that called for said ingredients (raw) to be cooked in a Dutch oven with chopped raw onion and Cream of Mushroom Soup (no liquid). I expressed skepticism, and the older boys said, yeah, it's always bad; the rice is crunchy. I suggested that they add a few cans of water to the mix, and all was well. But they had been eating this swill for 14 years!

    1. Hey, you gotta start someplace. The guy has expressed an interest, and that's the first step.

      I almost never cook pasta that's going to be baked in sauce, and my creations have received rave reviews from people with discerning palates. Besides, we're not looking for the ne plus ultra of tuna casserole here, are we? So it shouldn't be a problem.

      The only issue will be moisture content. Noodles absorb at least their own weight in water when boiled. So he'll need to add some extra liquid. For half a pound of noodles, figure a cup of water, stock, wine, etc. Covering the casserole with foil for the first half-hour or so of cooking will ensure that noodles that stick up above the surface won't be too crunchy.

      A tiny bit of trial and error may be required to get the desired results. But at least the guy will have one dish in his repertoire. Maybe he'll even be inspired to expand his horizons. Is the CIA holding its breath? Probably not. But still, it's never to late to become a competent cook.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Agreed to take the usual recipe and add soupcans of water and it should be fine. Another option is to buy the fresh vac-packaged linguini, cut it into 2" lengths (a very quick chop job) and use those and keep the other measurements in the recipe the same.

      2. Here are a couple of links to some things he can make that are really, really easy. Let us know how it goes.




        1. He could probably add a can of milk instead of water?

          I have given these books to college kids:



          They might work for your friend too.

          1. Prior to my interest in really good cooking, I've made many dishes wih canned soups, pasta, rice and couscous (yes I know it's pasta). But anyway, although the above mentioned can come out overcooked at times, I have liked the way it tastes. Canned tomatoes will work the same way.
            And if he doesn't want to boil the pasta, I'm worried he'd want to mix the soups and rest.
            But here goes.
            Years ago I'd make a chicken dish with chicken breasts on the bone.
            I'd brown the chicken first. take the drippings and pour that into a bowl, with 2 cans of soup, use what you like, I'd use cream of chicken or mushroom or one of each. Then I'd add milk around 3/4 to 1 can of milk or broth. I can't say exactly how much but you want a gravy like consistency, not thick. Taste it, if it needs more salt & pepper, or garlic powder add it.
            Add 1 onion chopped
            1/2 cup sherry or white wine
            1 T garlic powder - not garlic salt
            1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper
            mix the soup stuff well
            In a baking dish 10x13 place the 3/4 lb bag of noodles or 1 cup of rice, then place the breasts top with the soupy mix, and sprinkle with salt and pepper and parsley flakes. Obviously he can leave out what's to much trouble. Cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes. should be fairly tasty if you like canned soups.

            1. I think it's great that you're encouraging him, and yes, adding water and covering the casserole for all but the last few minutes should work fine. And remind him that he can mix this up lots of ways - change the soup flavor, change the cheese, use chicken instead of tuna, mix in corn, mix in peas, etc. - even browned ground beef!

              1 Reply
              1. re: katecm

                Very good point, if the dish he makes turns out he might actually enjoy himself and want to cook more.

              2. When I was a boy an aunt (Hungarian) made the most delicious beef stroganoff. Her method was to stack all the ingredients inside a pressure cooker, the top third or half of that being UNCOOKED egg noodles. It was perfection. If I had a pressure cooker I would try it absolutely.

                1. Since this year-old thread has been revived, it's worth mentioning that if the gentleman in question considers boiling pasta a bother, he may be amenable to the no-boil cooking method. For a pound of pasta, boil 2-3 qts of salted water. Add the dry pasta, stir once, cover, shut off the heat, and set the timer for 2-3 minutes longer than the label instructions. Go away.
                  If it makes you feel better you can lift the lid long enough to stir once halfway through the sitting time, but other than for spaghetti, it serves no purpose. The pasta will be perfectly cooked, with no boiling over. Less steam and heat in a summer kitchen, too. Do not believe the old wives' tail that pasta needs to rapidly boil in lots of water. Not so. Ask Harold McGee - he came around, too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: greygarious

                    I was looking for the same type of recipe today as I had one I made it in the past and found it again online. Of course any brand of pasta sauce can be used. I jazz mine up by browning some ground Italian sausage meat and cooked chopped spinach. Here is the link: