Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tuna Casserole Upgrade

Did your mom make Tuna Casserole?  Mine did.  I think one of the reasons a lot of people don't want to make this 1950's casserole is we think of it as outdated.  But in part it is also one of the reasons we want to make it;  it's a classic.  But I think there are a few tricks to updating this 1950's classic. First toss out the idea of using Elbow Macaroni noodles from Creamette - I mean this part of the recipe deserves an upgrade. Try a bigger thicker noodle with a bit of substance - Barilla Pipette or some Rigatoni.  Simply by changing the pasta, you are already off to a nice start in the upgrading process.  Below is the recipe that I have stuck with for the past few years. 

Tuna Casserole


1 pound box of Pipette or Rigatoni
3 cans of chunk light tuna in oil (the oil has more taste than the water)
*hint #1 use chunk light - it has less mercury than Albacor tuna, and you are using 3 cans
* hint #2 DON' T drain the tuna if it is packed in oil.  If packed in water, drain it.
1 can cream of chicken (I use Campbell's healthy request)
1/2 can of water (use the can from the soup) 
1 cup frozen peas
salt/ pepper
olive oil
2 Tablespoons of butter / plus 1 Tablespoon for the topping
10- 15 Ritz crackers (crushed) *hint use more or less depending on how much crust you want


Start by making your pasta. While the pasta is cooking, place the three cans of tuna in a bowl along with the frozen peas (still frozen), one can of Cream of Chicken Soup, and water *hint I fill the soup can half way with water and add that in to help keep the casserole moist. Plus I use the can so to help clean it out. Once the pasta is finished, add it to your bowl with your waiting mixture.  Also add 2 Tablespoons of butter (which will melt with the heat of the pasta), some olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in an oven-safe casserole dish with a cover.  Crush up 10-15 Ritz crackers and spread over the top of your casserole. Lastly, dab small pieces of butter across the top of casserole to help the crackers form a buttery topping.  Cover your casserole. Heat in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy.
*hint cover your casserole; it helps to keep it moist If you want some crunchy noodles on top, uncover the last 5 -10 minutes. If you prefer to keep it all moist, you must keep it covered. 

This recipe entry is dedicated to my dear friend Marian who always supports me. I am Blessed by her friendship. She asked me for this recipe -- so here it is -- sweet friend -- enjoy. 

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