And let me just lay all my cards on the table. Not only is it tuna noodle casserole -- possibly the casserole most emblematic of 1950s-style casseroles made with a can of cream of something-or-other soup -- but it's the real deal in that it's actually made with a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup.
Are you still with me? Or have you snorted with derision and closed your browser window? Never mind. I'm still here. And I think there's a case to be made for this tuna noodle casserole.
When I first met Mike he had a rotation of three favorite recipes: pasta with clam sauce, chicken enchiladas, and tuna noodle casserole made with jalapeno pepper jack cheese. There were a few more things but these were, and remain, his go-to recipes.
In the intervening 20 years I've flitted from one thing to the next while Mike has been steadily honing the meals in his repertoire. All these years later, his tuna noodle casserole, always good, has evolved into a thing of awesomeness.
It's not a thing I encourage him to make very often -- its cheese and sour cream content create a dish that's not exactly health food. But it is relatively inexpensive-- eight generous servings work out to about $1.65 per serving, or less if you buy any of the ingredients on sale -- and on cold winter days tuna noodle casserole can be the ultimate comfort food.
At one time I was bothered enough by the idea of canned cream of mushroom soup to experiment with making a white sauce instead. It didn't improve it. And since Mike is not about to bother with making a white sauce, and in our household this is almost always cooked by him, I've come to accept the use of canned soup. In fact I've moved beyond accepting it. I've embraced it. It's tuna noodle casserole -- get over yourself!
For the past two or three years I have attempted to get a decent picture of tuna noodle casserole every time we have it. It it has defied my every attempt. It may be possible to get a decent photo of tuna noodle casserole but I'm pretty sure I've proved that it's not possible for me to get a decent picture of tuna noodle. I've given up and I'm going with this picture. Don't let it put you off this stuff. It really is pretty darned good.
Mike's Tuna Noodle Casserole with Jalapeno Pepperjack Cheese
2 6-oz cans light tuna in water (dolphin safe!!) , drained
1 lb. egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
8 oz to 1 lb of mushrooms (based on how much you like mushrooms -- I like a pound), sliced
2 stalks celery, diced (optional)
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz pepperjack cheese, grated
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream
Salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne
An ounce or so of Parmigiana-Regianno cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Saute mushrooms, onions, and celery (if using) in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat until mushrooms are soft. Set aside and allow the mixture to cool.
3. Combine the mushroom mixture with tuna, noodles, pepperjack cheese, cream of mushroom soup, cayenne and enough sour cream to thoroughly moisten the mixture. Turn into a buttered 9 X 13 inch baking dish and sprinkle the Parmigiana-Regianno over the top of the casserole and then dust lightly with paprika.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. It's ready when the top is crispy and the casserole is heated through.