Food Sunday: Tuna Noodle Casserole
When I first got out of the USAF in 1982, I lived with my sister in Londonderry, NH for about a year and a half. When I moved out to an apartment of my own, she passed on to me her copy of Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two cookbook. One of the first recipes I made from this cookbook was Tuna Noodle Casserole. While I started with the basic recipe, as always, over the years, I have played around a bit with this and tried some different things.
The basic recipe calls for a bag/box of egg noodles, a can of tuna, and a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. If you do not have the egg noodles, just about any type of pasta will suffice. I made this dish the other evening and used elbow macaroni in place of the egg noodles and it was just fine.
Here’s the simple version I made this week:
A box of elbow macaroni
One can of tuna (packed in water)
One can of Cream of Mushroom soup
Half a bag of frozen peas (or one small can of peas)
Bring a pan of water to boil and pour in the macaroni/egg noodles/whatever. I usually throw salt and a tablespoon or so of olive oil into the water as I turn on the heat. Cook the noodles/macaroni per the instructions on the box. When noodles are done, pour into a colander and drain. In a casserole dish, place a layer of noodles on the bottom, then alternate with layers of tuna and layers of noodles until you run out of tuna. (You can add a little olive oil or butter and re-heat left over noodles/macaroni in the microwave for five minutes on half power so that nothing goes to waste.) On top of the layers of noodles and tuna, pour the peas as a layer then pour the cream of mushroom soup. Crumble the crackers on top and bake in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the crackers are browning.
As I mentioned, I used Ritz crackers for the topping this time but I have used saltines in the past and I think the original recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook I linked above called for crumbling potato chips.
A casserole such as this is quick and easy for a week night meal. You can substitute a can of shredded chicken for the tuna. You can add more peas or maybe try green beans instead of peas. I do not care for cheese at all but you can add a layer of shredded cheese to the casserole under the crackers if you like as the whole idea of casseroles is the versatility.
As always, you should start with a basic recipe then embellish and experiment until you have a dish to your and your family’s taste then enjoy!
Photo from Keenan Pepper licensed under Creative Commons