TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
As I pointed out in my recipe for the B.E.L.T., canned tuna has long had a negative stigma connected to it. This was not the case growing up in my family where I was routinely fed tuna melts, tuna salad and one of my all-time childhood favorites, tuna noodle casserole.
This recipe comes from my family’s most cherished cookbooks, San Francisco à la Carte, compiled by the Junior League of San Francisco. Not only does it contain the recipe for my family’s go-to celebration dessert, Sour Cream Chocolate Cake, but also this unique Bay Area twist on the classic, tuna noodle casserole.
Creamy and comforting, this dish has a surprisingly sophisticated flavor that comes from the addition of a toasted almond topping in place of the customary bread crumbs. With cold weather around the corner, keep this easy-to-make casserole in mind when you’re looking for something to fill you up and warm your belly.
TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
Adapted from San Francisco à la Carte
Putting together this recipe is about as easy as it gets. In fact, the only real room for error is overcooking the pasta. To avoid this, fill a large pot with an abundant amount of water and bring to a rolling boil before adding the egg noodles. Make sure to season the water well — it should taste salty. Cook until the noodles are almost done as they will continue to cook a bit more in the oven. Also, using good quality canned tuna and some excellent sharp cheddar cheese will make a world of difference in the flavor of the dish.
- 6 ounces egg noodles, cooked until al dente and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 10 1/2-ounce can of cream of celery soup
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 7-ounce cans tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions with some green tops
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole and combine the cooked noodles with the salt and minced thyme. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, mix together the milk and canned soup over medium heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Gently fold in the tuna, celery, red bell pepper, scallions, mayonnaise and all but 2 tablespoons of the grated cheddar. Stir until the cheese is melted.
- Add the cheese sauce to the casserole and mix thoroughly with the noodles. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and the chopped almonds.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. Garnish with parsley before serving.