Comfort Food – Tuna Casserole

From The Pantry
From The Pantry

I write this post with someone special in mind.  When I was visiting in Washington State, my brother asked me to make a tuna casserole.  We had this on occasion growing up and he wanted to revisit this taste from his past.  He let me know that his girlfriend didn’t like tuna casserole, and he didn’t want me to be offended if she ate something else.  She tried it, had seconds, and asked me to jot down the directions for her.  Michelle, here is your recipe – It’s super simple, and while it has evolved over the years to accommodate my mother’s change in taste, it’s essentially the same.  You will need: 

  • 1 – 16 oz box of Shell Pasta
  • 1 – Large can of Tuna (9 oz) 
  • 1 – Small can of Tuna (5 oz)
  • 1 – Large can Evaporated Milk (12 oz)
  • 1 – Large can Cream of Chicken or Mushroom Soup (22 oz)
  • 1 – Small can Cream of Chicken or Mushroom Soup (10 oz)
  • Herbs and Spices of choice.  We use parsley, garlic and onion powder, black pepper, dash of cayenne or Cajun season, and paprika)
  • Bread Crumbs (optional)

Decide if you want to bake your casserole.  When we were growing up, we didn’t bake it – we simply dished it out of the pot.  Now I bake it with a topping.

Preheat oven to 375 – 400°.

Cook pasta according to directions – done but still firm.  Drain pasta, rinse well, and leave in colander.  Return empty pot to stove, add soups and evaporated milk.  Stir and heat over medium low until it’s smooth and hot.  Add any seasonings to taste.  Add pasta to the soup and stir until all the pasta is covered.  Add drained tuna and stir gently.  Once it has warmed through, serve immediately or pour into a greased/sprayed casserole dish.  For a topping, I use bread crumbs, or a combination of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, then a quick blast of non-stick spray over the top.  I bake until it’s golden brown and bubbly, 15 – 20 minutes (watch it!).  Let it rest until the bubbles stop before digging in.  In our house this makes 6 servings, any one else, 8.  It’s best served with Peas – either on the side or mixed in.

Brown & Bubbly
Brown & Bubbly

A note on ingredients and changes.  Originally we used 2 small cans of soup and 2 small cans of tuna or 1 large can of tuna.  This was a great way to feed a family quick, easy, and inexpensively.   Over time, Mom decided she wanted an extra can of soup to make it creamier. We added an extra can of soup, and I added a small can of tuna to compensate.  The soup has enough salt, so I never add salt, it’s easy to add at the plate if desired.  If you want the tuna to be in larger pieces use the Solid White Albacore, if you want it smaller use the Chunk White or Chunk Light.  I use one large can of solid white, and one small can of chunk white.  I like to use the Cream of Chicken with Herbs, and I can add less seasoning.  I prefer to use Tuna packed in water.  A great side note about this dish: it’s easy to keep all the ingredients stocked in your pantry.  Those days you think there’s nothing in the house for dinner, and don’t want to go to the store – there’s always tuna casserole.  Guten Appetit!

A smaller version: 1 – 12 oz box pasta, 1 – large or 2 – small cans of soup, 1 – large or  2 – small cans tuna, 2 small cans (5 oz) milk or 1 soup can regular milk.

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