not grow up having to eat Tuna Noodle Casserole, which may
be one reason I actually like it.
the legion of visceral TNC haters, my younger brother,
Chris, recently told me, "I figure it was one of those
meals that (Mom) forced us to eat, like liver-and-onions. I
donít remember that she made it or not."
possibly, Chris has issues. My two sisters and I are pretty
sure Mom did not make TNC, at least not often, though she
did make her share of possibly love-it-or-hate-it dishes
including Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast and a concoction
given to her by our Scottish ranch-house neighbors called
"Mince and Tatties," which is an exotic way to say
hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes.
no idea where I first tasted TNC, and itís not something I
make or eat often, but whatís not to like about the rich
combination of noodles and cheesy sauce, with a crunchy
topping, and "tuna fish," as I grew up calling it
(never just "tuna").
tuna has never bothered me, and Iíve only grown to
appreciate its convenience and nutrition as Iíve gotten
older (especially after I was turned on to the high-end
Spanish stuff). Early in my days in Pittsburgh, when I was
living up on Mount Washington, I had a tuna-fish epiphany at
La Tavola Italiana restaurant, where I saw it served, with
cold tomato sauce, atop hot pasta, a Sicilian summer trick.
I was skeptical, but I loved it, and now, I make some
variation of that ó sometimes with fresh cherry tomatoes,
or no tomatoes ó at least once a week, using good-quality
tuna in packed in olive oil. Tuna and noodles sans
name "Tuna Noodle Casserole" is off-putting, you
could call it "Tuna Stroganoff," one of the
recipes I recently found in the spiral-bound "The Best
from the Blade Cookbooks: 1950-1960," a compilation
published by the PGís sister newspaper in Toledo, Ohio.
"Serve on toast, fluffy rice or buttered noodles and
sprinkle with parsley and chives," directed the recipeís
contributor, a Mrs. Fred Stauber, who includes 1/3 cup of
sherry for good measure.
a simple recipe, evoking perhaps simpler times. Especially
today when many of us can eat just about anything we can
imagine whenever we want, I like the dishís thrift and
humility, which makes it a very appropriate no-meat one to
make for Lent.
even simpler to not make it and instead seek it out at one
of the church fish fries that serve during Lent. St. Joan of
Arc in South Park, Pa., will serve it as a special, with
salad, says pavilion manager Mona Musser. She makes it with
lots of peas, celery, mushrooms and white albacore tuna, and
it must be good, because people already were calling the
church about it last week. They like it for the same reason
she does: "Itís home."
Maximilian Kolbe in West Homestead, Pa., also serves TNC
during Lent, in various ways, sometimes with crumbled potato
chips (classic!) on top and sometimes without peas
("People arenít wild about peas," quips the Rev.
Daniel Sweeney, who is a fan of this "extra-special
course, TNC isnít just for Lent. Itís part of the Lenten
catering menu at Eadieís Kitchen & Market, but the
dish also is a Friday lunch staple and has been for 25
years. Owner Maggie Joyce said she tried to take it off the
menu once, but, "It was awful. People were calling me
and yelling at me!"
people? No, she says with a laugh. While her now-grown
children would not eat the stuff, "Youíd be surprised
how many young people eat Tuna Noodle Casserole in this
want to make TNC yourself, you can find recipes everywhere,
including on the website of StarKist. Classic Tuna Noodle
Casserole remains a top-searched recipe at StarKist.com,
says spokeswoman Michelle Faist, but she likes to point out
other modern tuna twists, including Southwest Style Tuna
Casserole, Tuna Spinach and Artichoke Casserole and even
StarKistís Sloppy Charlie "(the new Sloppy
I have a soft spot for old-school versions of TNC, hereís
a modern one that loses the canned mushroom soup and adds
lots of vegetables to whole-wheat pasta. Itís not only
good, but also good for you.
TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
Krieger writes that this "retro remake" will
transport you back to the "warm fuzzy place" of
your childhood, "but it tastes better than you
remembered because it is better."
pound whole-wheat fettuccine
tablespoon canola oil
small onion, chopped
large stalk celery, finely diced
ounces white mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
cut all-purpose flour
low-fat (1 percent) milk
low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6-ounce cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
box frozen peas, thawed
cup plain bread crumbs
tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
the oven to 425 degrees.
a large pot of water to a boil. Break the fettuccine into
thirds, and cook until tender but firm, a minute or 2 less
than the package directions call for. Drain.
the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the
onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the
celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6
minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their
water, about 5 minutes more.
the flour over the mushroom mixture and stir immediately to
incorporate. Add the milk and broth and bring the mixture to
a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low
and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has
thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, cooked
fettuccine, tuna, broccoli, and peas, and toss to
incorporate. Pour mixture into a 9-by-13-inch casserole
small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle them over the casserole and bake until bubbly,
about 25 minutes.
6 (2 1/2-cup) servings.