Tuna Noodle Casserole—Either you loved to HATE it, or you hated to LOVE it, am I right? This homey dish either conjures up warm childhood memories or evokes gagging grumbling groans. In my case, I hated it as a child, but finally started to develop a liking to it when I entered my twenties. (Of course, my limited bank account back then may have had something to do with it.) Then when I got married to my Ex, he pretty much barred any, and all, casseroles as a dinner option. Apparently that was the only meal his previous girlfriend seemed to know how to make.
As you may have well experienced over the years, many tuna-noodle casseroles suffer from overcooked noodles and feature a soggy, bland topping. Here’s a tip: Rinsing the egg noodles after boiling removes any residual starch that would otherwise make the casserole pasty and also halts the cooking process, preventing them from overcooking within the casserole. Finally, adding the fried onion rings as a topping lends a satisfying crunch and great additional flavor in every bite.
A fan or not, Tuna Noodle Casserole dates back to the 1950s when casseroles were a popular dinner item. Originally, this dish was made with non-perishable pantry ingredients as a cheap, wholesome dinner that didn’t require a trip to the store. Yes, you could make the celery soup portion from scratch, but I know pretty much everyone of you don’t, or won’t, do that, so buying a can of the condensed saves a whole host of steps, and probably a portion of your sanity.
I like the fact that there are a fair amount of veggies in the mix with the peas, tomatoes and celery. If you want your casserole on the wetter side, increase the amount of milk slightly and perhaps even add a bit more condensed soup. And if you prefer a browner, crunchier top, leave it in the oven for an extra five minutes, like I did.
Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 12 oz. wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 15 oz. canned tuna in olive oil, drained
- 10.5 oz. condensed cream of celery soup
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 oz. sherry (not the vinegar)
- 1 1/4 cup frozen petite peas
- 1 cup small grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 stalks celery, chopped into small dice
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, or celery salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 3/4 fried onions
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Cook the noodles according to package directions for al dente. Drain, rinse and transfer to a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, soup and sherry.
- To the large bowl with noodles, add the soup mixture and all of the remaining ingredients except the fried onions. Stir until well combined.
- Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray and add the noodle mixture to the dish. Sprinkle the top with fried onion rings.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.
- Tent lightly with foil and let settle for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
BTW, if you have leftovers, add a little milk to your portion before reheating it in the microwave to loosen and moisten it.