Dishes of Comfort: Tuna Noodle Casserole

Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Orchidea of Viaggi e Sapori joint-hosted the Dishes of Comfort event to blog about meaningful culinary comfort. Comfort food can be a little difficult to define. There's no shortage of things I'll turn to when I'm feeling that need (they don't call it emotional eating for nothing), including probably most prominently these days sushi and chocolate.
But my childhood comfort food absolutely has to be tuna noodle casserole. It's one of those dishes I think that you're innately not supposed to like, especially as a child. But I've always loved it, and in particular my mother's version. I can't really say why, and it's not linked to any one particular memory food-wise or other. It's certainly nothing gourmet, nothing requiring great culinary demand, and given that I won't ordinarily eat tuna out of a can kind of strange. But I could - and certainly have been known to - eat it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. On breaks when I'd come home from college, I'd always request it, and often my parents were nice enough to make a separate pan for me to take back.
Their version was creamy with cheese, a bit crunchy from the vegetables, and slippery noodles were stuck all in between.
I have my mother's recipe stuck in between pages of a cookbook somewhere, but I learned the basic proportions ages ago - my job used to be opening the cans of tuna, and then I graduated to chopping, then stirring, and somewhere along the line I could make it on my own. It's as good as I remember, and as always, even better with lots of Old Bay or salsa on top.


1 12-oz box mafalda noodles or lasagna bits
1 large onion, finely diced
4-5 ribs celery, finely diced
2 cups frozen peas
1 7-oz jar roasted peppers, drained and chopped
2 cans condensed cream of celery soup
16 oz low-fat sharp Cheddar (such as Cabot Light)
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley
worcestershire sauce to taste
white pepper to taste
4 cans water-packed tuna
4 Tbsp butter
2/3 c dry breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a deep 9-10x13 pan with nonstick cook spray.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, boil the noodles according to package directions until al dente, about 8-9 minutes. Drain well and toss into the prepared pan.
Meanwhile, place the onion and celery in a skillet with a bit of oil. Saute until beginning to soften. Add the frozen peas and cook for about four minutes. Add the vegetables to the pasta. Add the chopped peppers to the pasta.
In a separate pot, melt together the soup and cheese. Stir in the parsley, worcestershire sauce and white pepper. Add the drained tuna, flaking it apart with a fork, and stir well to combine. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and vegetables, and mix well. Smooth the surface.
In the skillet used for the vegetables, melt the butter. Stir in the breadcrumbs until the crumbs are well buttered to ensure they do not burn. Carefully spread the breadcrumbs over the surface of the casserole.
Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

Tag: dishes of comfort


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely a dish of comfort for me. We had that a lot growing up.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Orchidea said...

Thanks for participating... very nice recipe.

5:26 PM  
Blogger melinda said...

mmm - you just gave me the hankering for tuna! (i just got over my balogna hankering) - except, if i were to make this, i think i might have to half it . . .

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmm ... it looks goey and yummy! Ellie thank you so much for taking part and sharing this special recipe with us!

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I guess it would also help if I actually called you by your right name ... Emily ... not Ellie!



10:59 PM  
Blogger Lis said...

I love tuna noodle casserole - but the only time I've ever had it was back in elementary school, can you believe it! My mom never made this and I don't know why because she's a big fan of tuna and noodles. Yours looks fabulous - and I'm copying your recipe because I'm going to make this - maybe this weekend! Yum! Thanks for sharing :D

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have noticed most of the dishes from our childhood are quick, compact but savory treats. Just like canned tuna or in my case canned peas and sometimes gravy, our family members, whether mother, father or grandparents, didn't always have time to find fresh food or make a certain sauce from sratch. We only find out the truth as adults as we attempt to relive those memories. Strangely enough even though our palates are much more refined, they still work!

4:51 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

That sounds good! Not a thing like the tuna and noodle casserole Mom made (except for the peas). I think I'm going to try your version.

4:36 AM  
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