Tasty Tuesday: Tuna Casserole

The Ultimate Comfort Food….definitely different for each family.

When my sister, Laura, and I start talking Comfort Food from our childhood, sometimes our kids and spouses run for cover. Have you ever noticed that most people can remember with incredible fondness some favorite food that only mom could make quite right? We have a long list of foods that can bring back those feelings of mom’s love and care.

One of the things that Laura and I do these days is intentionally create Comfort Food memories for our own families. Several weeks ago, I wrote about one such food: White Chicken Chili. Some of our comfort foods are maybe not worth passing on: Laura loves cream tuna on toast. I love graham crackers soaked in warm milk. Our kids aren’t crazy about either one of those. One of my all-time favorite dinners is mashed potatoes-spinach-and meat gravy. It all gets stirred together in one sloppy green mess and then topped liberally with lemon juice. My kids think I’m NUTS. It sounds dreadful, but I promise, I LOVE the taste of that dinner.

One of my favorite comfort foods is tuna casserole. There are probably as many recipes for tuna casserole as there are grandmas out there. This casserole, called Tuna Tango for reasons unknown to me, is one of my very favorite flavors of cold weather comfort. Fortunately, it’s also easy, fast and inexpensive.

Tuna (or Hamburger) Tango

  • 12-16 oz. bag of egg noodles, cooked
  • 3 6.5 oz cans of tuna (or one pound browned hamburger)
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or one can of cream of mushroom and one can of cream of chicken soup)
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 2 T. chopped onion
  • 4 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. mustard
  • 2 c. shredded cheese

Optional:

  • 3 c. cut ripe black olives
  • 1/2 c. chopped pimiento

This ingredient list reflects the fact that I double this recipe and actually add extra tuna to feed my hungry swimmer boys. That means that for a smaller casserole, you can cut this recipe neatly in half and use only one can of tuna. I also NEVER, NEVER add pimientos and rarely add olives. I grew up eating this casserole with olives, but I’m not fond of them in this form, so I leave them out. If you’re an olive lover, you should definitely try them in this recipe.

Mix all ingredients together in a large, deep casserole dish and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Cover for most of the time in the oven and remove cover for the last 5-10 minutes to crisp up the melted cheese. Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

This is definitely one of the comfort foods that my family still loves.

So here’s the challenge. What are your Comfort Foods? What Comfort Food memories do you want to create for your kids? Is it chicken noodle soup out of a can? Is it macaroni and cheese out of box? No problem! Someday, your kids will remember warmly how wonderfully delicious and comforting those things were for them.

Are you having trouble figuring out if you even have Comfort Food memories from your own childhood? Having trouble figuring out what your kids might someday remember as the ultimate TASTE that told them mom loved them? It’s not too late. You can start experimenting now. Consider making homemade macaroni and cheese your signature dish when you want to pamper your family. Think about starting a waffles and ice cream tradition for Sunday nights. Maybe you need to start with the tried and true chicken noodle soup.

Whatever you choose, someday, your kids will thank you!

Barb Kelley

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