The first year I was married, I learned to make a popular tuna-noodle casserole with help from a can of mushroom soup. The meal-in-one was cheap, quick, adaptable and, best of all, required no cooking skills. Yes, Chicken of the Sea got me through many a day as a new housewife, finishing up my last year in college.
Time and Tuna March On
As my kitchen file of scribbled 3×5 recipe cards grew, I became less dependent on canned items. I explored new flavors and fresh ingredients. Still the old standby remained part of my culinary arsenal, especially handy to take to sick or mourning neighbors.
I thought about the heart warming dish this week after reading a piece by David Lebovitz. In his healthy makeover of the fish-pasta-soup combo, he chucks the pasta for zucchini sticks. But I wasn’t quite ready to leave out the noodles.
I scanned the Internet until I found a recipe that was close to my memories: Old School Tuna and Noodle Casserole with Potato Chips and Peas. It looked good, but in the end, I went with Ree Drummond’s recipe (aka the Pioneer Woman), who jettisoned the clumpy canned soup, mayo, peas, cheese, and potato chips. The recipe was especially appealing because I had all her ingredients on hand—though my mushrooms were a bit scruffy.
Fancify the Recipe
Many have attempted to fru-fru the old recipes with upscale ingredients: dried porcini mushrooms, Mozzarella, and thyme, as did USA Today‘s Ellen Brown. She did a side-by-side taste test of the original vs. her upscale, no-soup version and found the new recipe much preferred by taste testers. You might call this gussied up version Company Tuna Mornay.
I think the zucchini version has possibilities, too. I intend to give it a go. Perhaps using my spiralizer and cutting the zucchini into noodles, so the casserole looks like it has pasta, when it really contains a green vegetable. I could call it a Tuna-Zoodle Casserole. Or, perhaps, politicize the dish and call it “Fake Noodle Casserole.”