Tuna Casserole

Growing up eating Korean food with the occasional spaghetti and meatballs and my mom’s version of mac and cheese, I wasn’t very familiar with “American” food. If I had read the ingredients to tuna casserole, I would have avoided eating it. Cook canned tuna mixed with canned cream of mushroom soup, frankly, doesn’t sound all that appealing.

Well, living off campus my junior year with a limited meal plan and limited money, I was grateful for 1) free food and 2) meal ideas that stretched the dollar. When Jen offered dinner, even if it meant trekking out to her off-campus apartment, I wasn’t going to say no. When it turned out to be yummy, hearty and fairly simple and cheap to put together ($5 for a week’s worth of dinner, sold!), I asked for the recipe.

I probably made tuna casserole once a month for the next 10 years. I’ve taught my subsequent roommates, my husband and even my sister-in-law how to make this dish. About 5 years ago, I lost the taste for it and I haven’t made it since. Plus, I got busy improving my cooking repertoire and trying “new’ recipes.

Recently, the price of fresh fish has increased, I have less time to cook during the week and cook-ahead friendly food like tuna casserole seemed attractive again.

So, here I am, posting a recipe of a dish that’s not very glamorous, but yummy. A recipe that’s budget friendly in this time of rising food costs ($7 for two dinners worth of food). A recipe that’s not new to most people, but perhaps forgotten by others as well.

To Jen Y and Easy Meal Staple

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Tuna Casserole

Prep time: 10 mins     Cook time: 45 mins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 lb farfalle or shells (or rotini if you’re out like I was)
extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 package (10 ounces)white mushroom or baby bella, sliced
2 (6 ounce) cans tuna (I prefer solid white in water), drained and flaked
1 can Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular, Healthy Request, Fat Free)
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

In a large pot, bring to boil salted water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside in a casserole dish with some olive oil mixed in to prevent the pasta from sticking.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic, stir for a minute, add peppers, salt and pepper to taste and fry until the peppers start to soften. Remove from pan and set aside. Next saute the sliced mushrooms for a minute and turn the heat to low. Add back the peppers, tuna, mushroom soup and milk. Salt and pepper to taste. *Stir until the sauce is thoroughly mixed and heated through. Pour mixture into over the pasta. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese melts and the top browns slightly.

*I have skipped the cheese and baking part when pressed for time and served with the sauce and pasta mixed on the stove top.

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