Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Anne Bennett on March 7, 2010

A single serving of tuna noodle casserole.

A single serving of tuna noodle casserole.

It has been a brutally cold and dismal winter in the American Midwest. I have survived by taking daily doses of Vitamin D in the morning, followed by equally medicinal doses of wine at night. It’s worked, but just barely. I don’t remember another time when I have felt so “blah” for so long.

My mood has affected my cooking, which brings me to the recipe at hand. When my friend Kaye came over this morning to do the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle (we finished it in three hours), she expressed her surprise that I had resorted to so pedestrian a dish.

I told her that if you grew up Catholic in the 1950’s and 60’s you’d recognize this Friday night dinner staple. And when I recently came upon the recipe, I suddenly craved the familiar taste from my childhood (which was spent in California, where winters were never this cold!)

soup_adTuna noodle casserole became popular after the Campbell Soup folks introduced their revolutionary Cream of Mushroom Soup in 1934. (Imagine if the Internet had been around when Cream of Mushroom Soup first appeared. I envision all kinds of condensed soup/recipe blogs.)

My mom made her tuna noodle casserole in a round tube pan and then unmolded it onto a large platter and served it with peas in the middle hole. I’m certain she got the idea from Lady’s Home Journal, the housewife’s entertaining bible back then. And yes, my mom proudly served this to guests!

Here is a Weight Watcher-friendly version that will take you back (without setting you back too many calories).

Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 T. unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1 cup 2% milk
1 (10 1/2 oz.) can condensed reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
6 oz. (uncooked) egg noodles (buy a 12-oz. package and use half)
1 1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. dried thyme
2 (6-oz.) cans tuna packed in water, drained
1 (2-oz.) jar diced pimentos, drained
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Boil noodles in a medium saucepan and drain in a colander. In the same pan, melt the butter and saute onion until soft. Whisk in milk and soup and cook about 3 minutes. Add the cooked noodles, peas, lemon juice, salt, pepper, thyme, tuna and pimento and pour into a 2-quart casserole that’s been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves: 4

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Christine March 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Sounds blooming marvellous, Anne! I can even make sense of the American weights and measures. I shall have a trial run then make it for 6 hungry walkers in Cornwall next month. xoxoxo

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