Macaroni and cheese out of the box was a major staple of my youth. It’s cheap and pretty filling and you can get two boxes for a dollar. Add in a can of tuna, some cream of whatever soup, a little milk and melt some American cheese on top and you have the old broke standby: TUNA CASSEROLE!
My mom showed me how to make tuna casserole when I was only maybe 10. It is one of the several rotating meals I would prepare for my brothers and sisters when she had to work at night. I felt really fancy when I learned how to make tuna casserole. It seemed like I was really COOKING. At this point I can’t fathom trusting my kid to make tuna casserole, or any other casserole for that matter. I’m pretty sure I don’t want either one of them near the stove. But I think my mom must have realized that I had an aptitude for throwing food together and she totally trusted me with it (thanks Momma!).
Since I am most definitely qualifying as “broke” these days, I decided to revisit this oldie but goodie- sans the American cheese (sorry, American cheese really has no place in my life).
I cooked a whole box of elbow pasta (again, I am always partial to whole wheat pasta, but use what you have). I added a can of drained and rinsed peas (I think frozen would have been better. I can’t ever get that “canned” taste out of peas) and a big can of tuna in water, drained and flaked of course.
One can of cream of mushroom soup plus a soup can full of milk was enough moisture for me, so I added that in along with some shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese. But my favorite part of this recipe are these crunchy french fried onions.
I am always looking for excuses to use french fried onions! I adore them in green bean casserole at Thanksgiving, but I think I need them more than once a year. Okay I don’t need them, but we are using them. Trust me on this one. Once you mix everything together, top the casserole with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 until nice and bubbly…
Add the french fried onions and bake for a few more minutes, until they are nice and toasty warm.
And if you are feeling brave, teach your kids how to make this. They just might surprise you.
French Fried Tuna Casserole
1 box elbow pasta
1 10.5 ounce can of cream of mushroom soup
a soup can full of milk
1 15 ounce can of peas, drained and rinsed OR 1 1/2 cups frozed peas
1 12 ounce can of tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half
1 cup monterey jack cheese, divided in half
1 can french fried onions
Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and put back in the pot. Add soup, milk, peas, and tuna. Stir until combined. Add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese. You CAN add 1/2 the can of french fried onions in with the pasta mixture if you want some onion-y flavor or a little crunch. I decided not to, but it’s really about preference. Empty into a 9X13 casserole and then top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the soup and cheese are bubbly. Sprinkle enough french fried onions on to cover the top of the casserole and bake for 5 more minutes. Cozy broke comfort food at it’s best.