Tuna Noddle Casserole

I know, I know, I know. Frumpy, dumpy tuna noodle casserole. But I promise you, its good. Really. I wouldn’t lie to you.

 And despite the fact that I am not head over heals for tuna or casseroles, I love cooking, and this meals is tasty. I love casseroles because I can make this on Monday and eat it anytime throughout the week and it will always taste good.

I loved when my mom used to make this. I was always so excited. However, she always topped the creamy goodness with cornflakes. I must be pretty special kind of person to absolutely hate cornflakes, potato chips or french fried onions on top of my casseroles. As a kid, I would dig around the whole pan, pushing the casserole all around to only scoop up spoonfuls without any of the offending topping. And I would never eat the leftovers because the cornflakes would get soggy and you couldn’t dig them out without the flakes ripping apart.

Everything about the casserole that I love(reheating and tasting exactly the same) is ruined by cornflake topping. But I have solved this problem. I put my crunch on the INSIDE. A special thanks to the tiny little Chinese food restaurant my friend, Carrie, dragged me to in high school. They put water chestnuts in some dish that Carrie made me try and I was hooked. Water chestnuts have no observable flavor, and they stay crisp and crunchy even after all the rest of the vegetables have gone from tender, to soft, to mushy. I put them in my stir-fry. I put them in casserole. I put them in tetrazzini. I put them anywhere I can. I wish I could marry them. Wait, no, that is not right. I want to serve them at my wedding. Yes, that is more like it. Enough about all this, lets get cooking!!!

You can add any veggies you want. My mom likes peas and carrots. B does not like peas. Or carrots, really. So this is what I stick with:

Tuna Noodle Casserole

12 oz frozen broccoli florets
1 BIG (12oz) can of Tuna or two regular cans
2 (5 oz) cans water chestnuts
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups shredded cheese, cheddar or colby makes me happy
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 can cream of ____ soup
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2/3rds to 3/4ths of a 16 oz package of egg noodles

Start by cooking up your noodles in a BIG stock pot, following the package directions. Drain your noodles and set aside.

While your noodles are cooking up you can dice up your celery,

grate your cheese,

and open all those cans!

I used a cream of celery soup because that is what was rolling around in the pantry. I also like cream of mushroom or chicken and lately they(the grocery gods) have had a roasted garlic mushroom that is amazing. Use whatever you like. I would also like to mention that I rarely use the expensive, steam in the high-tech bag, frozen broccoli. It is just what I had.

In the BIG stock pot that you cooked the noodles, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk. This is making a roux. Super simple and super easy. Slowly add your milk, whisking constantly.

Add all but one handful of the cheese into the milk mixture. Stir and stir until all that cheese is melted. Add your dry mustard now. I always love dry mustard in a cheese sauce because it is how I learned to make MacNCheese.

Now dump in everything else. I start with the cream soup and stir it in. Then add the veggies and the tuna.

That looks so good. Stir all the ingredients and add your salt and pepper. Your are probably going to need a lotta bit of salt, nothing other than the cream soup has any seasoning. I taste and adjust seasonings then I add the noodles.

With everything mixed together and looking good, pour the whole potful into a 9×13 casserole dish. Take that handful of cheese you didn’t add to the sauce earlier and add it on top now. I might not like the cornflake topping but a casserole does need something on top to get some color. Something that does get golden and bubbly. Something like cheese. Also at this point you might want to grab a couple of spoonfuls for your snack.

Now you can wrap this up and store it in the fridge or freezer for a meal down the road, OR you can just pop it in a preheated 350* oven for about 20 -25 minutes.

Now that is dinner!!


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