Why this blog?

"If you are careful," Garp wrote, "if you use good ingredients, and you don't take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day; what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane."
from John Irving's novel, The World According to Garp

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tuna Noodle Casserole

People who cannot abide the sight, smell or taste of canned tuna will find the very idea of this recipe appalling, and that's fine - I feel the same way about sushi.  But when it's cold and dark outside, and I'm tired and hungry, this is something that fills me up in every way.  Gorgeous Sister #1 has perfected something similar with canned white meat chicken, but you'd have to ask her about the seasonings for that one. 

I also learned something with my last post about the cookies - it's a helluva lot easier to use a standard recipe format.  So I'll try to split the difference, give a good ingredient list then ramble at will on how to put it together. 

Tuna Noodle Casserole


1 lb bag of egg noodles or box of seashell pasta
1 large can of tuna or albacore, packed in water, drained
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
Generous sprinklings (about a teaspoon):
      Minced onion
      Dried sage
      Garlic powder
      Dried parsley flakes
      Black pepper
      Red pepper flakes
3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the noodles by the package directions - for me, 11 minutes in a full rolling boil gives me al dente noodles, perfect for this casserole.  While the pasta is cooking,  I mix together the tuna, the soup, and all the seasonings.  And yes, I know what that looks like.  And yes, I have smelled it.  To me, it smells good, I swear. 

Drain the cooked pasta thoroughly.  I drain it in the colandar (colender?  Hansel?  Haaaan-sel??!?) in the sink first, then pour it back into the hot pot to steam off the excess water.  Mix in the sludge-looking other stuff thoroughly until all the noodles are coated and there's tuna throughout. 

Spray a two-quart casserole dish with cooking spray or grease it with butter.  Spread half of the tuna noodle mixture in the dish, cover it completely with cheese.  Repeat with the other half. 

Bake at 375 degrees for fifteen minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and starting to brown in spots. All of the ingredients are basically cooked when it goes in; you're just melding flavors and melting cheese. Serve hot.  This makes about six generous servings.  Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat in the microwave with a sprinkle of water for 2-3 minutes. 

I have put a beaten egg in this before, but it didn't add anything much taste or texture-wise and made the casserole take longer to bake, so now I leave it out.  There are those who would insist you need something crunchy on top, like breadcrumbs or crumbled potato chips.  If you want that, feel free; just don't tell me about it.  <shudder>  Seriously, if you do put a topping on it, dot it with dabs of butter first so it doesn't burn or dry out and bake it as long as it takes to make the topping crunchy. 

This was one of the first things I ever cooked for my husband, and he loves it.  He also proved his priceless worth as a husband because of this dish.  One night we were both exhausted and starving, and I had dragged myself to the kitchen to make this while he was working on something else in the living room.  I went through the whole process, waited for it to bake, reached into the oven to take it out - and promptly dropped it in the middle of the kitchen floor.  Hot tuna noodles and cheese went EVERYWHERE, and I screamed a series of words no proper lady should know. 

He came running in, certain I had done myself some dread injury.  To his eternal credit, when he saw what had happened, he didn't laugh until AFTER he had hugged me and told me that 1)it smelled delicious and its loss was a tragedy, and 2)we were going to KFC to get a bucket of chicken.  Then he laughed his ass off.  Now it's become a tradition in our marriage; I make this, but he's the one who takes it out of the oven. 


  1. Hee!! And yipes -- I'd be traumatized for weeks after that. Granted I'm a bit of a drama queen... ;)

    I'd love to make the recipe, but Choreboy has issues with warm tuna. Too much as a child, methinks.

  2. Yeah, I think Max's childhood in Australia might be the only thing saving him for this dish - he had never heard of it before, so he has no horror stories of well-meaning cooks force-feeding him anything similar. My aunt told me on Facebook that my uncle told her specifically that if she tried to feed him this, he'd divorce her.
    And oh yeah, I'm a drama queen, too - I was nervous every time I put on an oven mitt for a week!