Thursday, February 18, 2010

RECIPE: Cheesy Tuna Casserole (and a better-than-that version)

My pictures look a bit better, don't they? I've been forcing myself to stand across the room and using the zoom feature on the camera to get close up and feeling like I ought to be setting up those big things that look like inverted white umbrellas (what are those even for?) and murmuring to my food, "Work with me, babe! The camera loves you and you love the camera. SHOW ME SOME CRUST!!!"

I'm sorry to say that this casserole wasn't as good as I hoped it would be, so I'm going to post the original recipe I used last night, because it wasn't terrible. I mean, we ate it. Grudgingly. And we were really hungry because of Ash Wednesday being a fast day and all, so we were all like, "This sucks" even while we were tossing it down the hatch. But I'm also going to post a second recipe, one which works out what I perceived to be the kinks in this plan.

Actually, I think my biggest problem wasn't with the recipe. The sauce the tuna was in was actually very good. But the pasta I used? It was ALL WRONG. I used whole wheat penne, and I should have used just plain old elbow macaroni, the classic tuna casserole pasta. The penne was too big and led to a mouth-feel that was somehow unpleasant. I'm not sure why.

So! For your discernment, here are two tuna casserole recipes:


12 ounces pasta (approx. 6 cups), cooked and drained
2 cans albacore tuna, drained
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup mayonnaise
1 small onion, diced
1 large can French-fried onions

In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked pasta, tuna, soup, cheese, peas, mayonnaise and onions and stir. Pour into a 9x13 casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle the French-fried onions on top, bake for five more minutes.

Makes 6 servings


My favorite sandwich in the whole world is a tuna melt, which is tuna salad with cheese on buttery grilled bread. In this recipe, some buttery elbow macaroni will have to take the place of the bread, but I plan to try this during Lent and see how it works.

I make my tuna salad with mayonnaise, diced celery and onion, some crushed dried dill weed and a tiny squirt of mustard. To make a tuna melt sandwich, I add a slice of cheese, of course. What I'm hoping this recipe will produce is a creamier casserole that isn't overpowered by the tuna, with the french-fried onions approximating the crunch of the grilled bread. Hence...

4 cups cooked elbow macaroni
1 can albacore tuna, drained
2 cans cream of celery soup
½ cup mayonnaise
1 soup can warm water
1 teaspoon salad mustard
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1½ teaspoons dried dill weed
1 small onion, diced
1 large can french-fried onions
sprinkle of paprika, optional


In a large mixing bowl, stir together the soup, mayonnaise, water and mustard. Add the cheese, peas, dill weed and diced onion, stir. Fold in the macaroni and the tuna.

Pour into a well-buttered 9x13" casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour or until bubbly. Top with french-fried onions and bake for five more minutes. Sprinkle with paprika to give it a savory color if desired.

Makes six servings
Now remember, I haven't ever actually made that second recipe. It's just based on correcting some things I felt went wrong with the first recipe, which we ate for dinner last night. It's also supposed to be a take on my favorite sandwich, an old-fashioned diner tuna melt. Who knows? That second recipe might be as yucky as the first one, but I can't imagine how that could be.

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