"This is a family dinner classic! Creamy and mixed cheese sauce baked with tuna, veggies, and soft egg noodles, then topped with seasoned panko bread crumbs."
I almost always have cans of tuna in the house. I think this may be from all the years I spent worshiping Tuna Helper as a gourmet meal and I just can’t shake the habit of picking up a few more cans whenever I’m at the grocery store.
Even now that I’m cooking more meals from scratch, I still use Tuna Helper as my main backup plan for the days when I’m not feeling motivated, so having cans of tuna on hand still has its perks.
The only problem?
Even though I remember to buy the tuna I consistently forget to pick up the actual box of Tuna Helper.
Seriously, why are these things not stocked right beside each other?
Can I get just a small isle display so I remember my mistake before I’m unpacking all my groceries at home? It’s like I get amnesia while talking from the canned goods to the pasta.
So since I have a cabinet full of tuna (9 cans to be exact) and no Tuna Helper, I figured I’d take this as an opportunity to tackle another item on my cooking bucket list: tuna casserole. I was actually pretty excited about it since I’ve never even had “true” tuna casserole before. I only began to embrace tuna in my mid-twenties (the dawn of the Tuna Helper era) because up until then I was such a picky brat about food that I wouldn’t even eat a well-cooked steak.
And yes, I know what you must be thinking, and you’re absolutely correct – I was that kid who lived off of macaroni and PB&J and would throw a fit about eating anything that wasn’t on a short list of highly unnutritious and bland foods.
That’s pretty common behavior in kids these days, but since I grew up in the eighties, it’s a miracle my parents let me survive until adulthood. So please don’t judge me too harshly (now) on the fact that I had never had something as wholesome as tuna casserole until my thirties.
I’ve got two wasted decades to catch up on.
While I may be a newcomer to the possibilities of tuna, there is one thing I could be a certified expert on, and that’s pasta. There’s never a time when I wouldn’t be up for a great pasta dish, and egg noodles (in particular) are a weakness of mine.
Honestly, I’d try anything once if egg noodles were involved, just like I’ve tried countless other recipes that have piqued my interest since I started this blog, but not all of them make the cut to be featured. I wouldn’t waste your time (and mine) by posting something I couldn’t vouch for.
So seeing as how half of this tuna casserole is already gone (and most of it eaten by me) I think I can definitely say that tuna casserole will be in the “like” column for me going forward. I just may not be able to look at Tuna Helper the same way again, though I guess I won’t know for sure until I actually remember to buy some. Maybe it’s a good thing I keep forgetting if it means it gives me more reasons to make tuna casserole instead.
The only thing I might change in the future would be to add more cheddar cheese. I used 1 cup when I first made this, but I think it might be tastier with 2. (Update March 2015: I’ve since tried it with 2 cups of cheese and it was awesome!) I put a note about all of this in the recipe instructions, so you can be the judge on just how cheesy you’d like your casserole to be.
I do have one confession about this recipe:
Sadly, I no longer have the original source.
I’ve collected plenty of recipes over the years, many of which I found before the glory of Pinterest, and the only means I had to save them was a txt file on my computer. This recipe came from one of those txt files.
So if you recognize this recipe from anywhere, please drop me a note and I’ll add a link back. This recipe is too good not to receive proper credit!
Tuna Noodle Casserole
- 6 oz egg noodles
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion minced
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1 oz sherry optional
- 10 oz mushrooms baby bella, sliced
- 1 cup frozen petite peas thawed
- 10 oz tuna (2 5 oz cans), drained
- 1 cup cheddar cheese sharp or mild (can use up to 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tbsp panko breadcrumbs seasoning of your choice
- Cook egg noodles per package instructions, reducing cook time by 2 minutes so pasta is slightly undercooked. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter. Add minced onion and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add flour and a pinch of salt, then stir well. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes over medium low heat.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with butter flavored baking spray (or rub dish down with butter).
- Add the chicken broth to the skillet and slowly whisk until combined. Increase heat to medium and whisk for 30 seconds.
- Add milk to skillet and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the sherry, mushrooms, and peas, plus any additional salt or pepper to taste. Allow to simmer over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until sauce thickens, roughly 7 to 9 minutes.
- Add drained tuna to skillet, stirring for another minute.
- Remove skillet from heat and add the cheddar cheese, mixing until it's completely melted. Add the noodles to the sauce and toss until evenly coated.
- Pour sauce coasted pasta into baking dish and top with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Lightly spray the top with more cooking spray (or add a few cut squares of butter) and bake for 25 minutes. If you'd like a crispier top, place under the broiler for a few minutes.