If Tuna Helper and green bean casserole decided to steal away to Vegas and get hitched, this would be their someday baby. A little hybrid bundle of joy.
The thing about tuna noodle casserole is that it’s so delightfully classic, so proudly retro, that I’m happy to let it be. Most comfort food recipes, especially those that rely heavily on canned foods and convenience, give me pause. I bite my lip, look upstairs to by brain, and ask, “Can we make this more homemade? Can we make it healthy? [Most importantly] Should we?”
And the truth is, sometimes we should not. Cans of Campbell’s condensed soup, like cans of Aqua Net hairspray, make me smile with nostalgia. And while it’s not quite the olden days, but more just the dayglow surrounding the ’80’s, they remind me of my childhood- an era of fabulous perms and legwarmers.
I’m comforted by this dish. Creamy verging on gooey, warm, and hearty. It has all the savory depth of green bean casserole, from cream of mushroom soup, a sharpness from grated parmesan cheese, and a gentle zing of garlic. But it’s the little pops of sweet peas between my canines and the saltiness of flaked tuna that really dazzle my taste buds. I topped it all with french fried onions because I feel like those trump bread crumbs in nearly every circumstance. I dare you to find something more lovely than a crisp, buttery crust atop a melting cheesy center.
Let me know if you find something. I’ll be here eating things that taste like 1985. And getting a perm.
In a large bowl, stir together 5 cups of cooked pasta, 2 cans of tuna fish, and 2 cups of frozen, unthawed, peas.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together 2 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Pour that mixture on top of the pasta.
Stir it all together until well combined. Pour it into a lightly greased casserole dish (I used a 13×9″ pan). Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375°F. Remove the foil, sprinkle crushed french fried onions evenly over the top and bake, now uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes.