Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

As most of you well know, we North Americans are facing a Winter unlike any seen in decades. With severe drought in the West and Arctic cold, record snows, and ice storms to the East, you’re either praying for rain or cursing the cold. Whether this Winter is truly one for the record books remains to be seen but it sure is a great excuse for making comfort food.

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Tuna Casserole 2*     *     *

These past few weeks, I’ve said good-bye to any thoughts of post-holiday dieting and broke out the Dutch oven and stock pot. I’ve made soups, tomato sauce, chili, stew, braised short ribs, baked pastas, and pulled pork. Not only that, I’ve baked more bread these past few weeks than I have in ages. In short, I’ve done all that I can to warm both me and my kitchen which, for reasons known only to my home’s previous owner, has no heating element other than the oven. Heaven bless that oven.

Since you really cannot make beef stew for one, soup by the bowl, or pulled pork for a single sandwich, you can well imagine that my fridge and freezer have been well-stocked with leftovers, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Even so, after my third dinner of beef stew or fourth lunch of a bowl of chili, and with temps still in negative territory, I began to crave something different and searched for some long-forgotten comfort food recipes. Enter tuna noodle casserole.

Before going any further, I need to mention this recipe’s origins. After all, I did call today’s post “Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole”. Although there is no direct link to Mom, I think there’s plenty of evidence to support my claim.

First off, I found it in the oldest recipe file that I own, one that I created on my first PC back in the 90′s. That file has survived a short-circuited motherboard, head crash, my conversion to Apple, and a transfer to my second iMac. Though forgotten until now, it contains a few gems from Mom but, I admit, this bit of evidence is highly circumstantial.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence can be found within the recipe itself. Although all the ingredients are listed, the amounts required for some of them are missing. This is a hallmark of the Bartolini family recipes and a major reason for this blog being created. I could only be more certain of this recipe’s provenance if an amount or two was listed as “a handful of” this or “a good pinch of” that. Members of the jury, there is no doubt in my mind that this is Mom’s recipe. I rest my case.

Now, a word of warning. This is an old recipe and some may not appreciate it. First of all, it contains mayonnaise and there are those who cannot abide the stuff. I don’t like cilantro, so, I’d say we’re even. It, also, contains a can of condensed soup, the bane of many a modern-day foodie. Well, I’m guessing this recipe comes from the 60′s and we didn’t have foodies back then. We had gourmands — and the Galloping Gourmet but never mind him. Lastly, the final two ingredients, though optional, are listed as frozen. In this part of the continent, when it’s casserole season, there are few, if any, fresh peas to be found, and, for those of us living in the Corn Belt, buying what passes for corn in the off-season is sacrilege. If, however, you’ve access to tasty, fresh peas and sweet corn in Winter, by all means use them instead of frozen.

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Tuna Casserole 1*     *     *

Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe

Ingredients

  • cooked noodles, buttered
  • olive oil
  • 1 large can ( 12 oz, 340 g) water-packed tuna fish, drained & flaked
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can (10¾ oz, 305 g) cream of mushroom soup (I use cream of celery)
  • 1 package ( 8 oz, 226 g) cream cheese
  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c milk
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 c bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • frozen corn (optional)
  • frozen peas (optional)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚ F (190˚ C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked noodles, tuna, cheddar cheese, corn, and peas.
  3. Sauté onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil until onions are translucent. Add to the mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, soup, and cream cheese, stirring until hot and well-mixed. Add to the mixing bowl and stir to combine again.
  5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and toast until golden brown. Immediately remove from heat.
  6. Pour the tuna mixture into the baking dish, top with the toasted bread crumbs, and cover with aluminum foil.
  7. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes before removing the foil. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes to further crisp the topping.
  8. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

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Tuna Casserole*     *     *

Notes

The amounts for some of the ingredients will depend upon the volume of noodles you’ve prepared. I’ve found that if I use a full pound (450 g) of noodles, for example, a single large can of tuna fish may not be enough. You’ll find that the “cream sauce” is rather thick and can overpower the rest of the ingredients. More tuna is needed to compensate.

Be sure to brown the bread crumbs before sprinkling them atop the casserole. If you rely on the oven to fully brown them, you’ll run the risk of drying out the casserole.

Any broad noodle may be used here, though shorter ones work best. I happened to have a bag of farfalle, butterflies, and used it.

I think you could easily substitute chopped, roasted chicken in place of the tuna.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Steak PizzaiolaOne common theme running throughout this blog is my love of pasta. I’ve certainly made no effort to hide it. With temperatures so terribly frigid, today’s Blast from the Past is particularly welcome in my kitchen, for it involves both a lengthy braise in the oven and a large pot of boiling pasta water on the stove top. Combined, they are just what’s needed to warm my kitchen and keep it that way well into the evening. Best of all, I end up with a great pasta for dinner. You can learn how to prepare Steak Pizzaiola by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Beef Cheeks Preview Beef Cheeks

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183 thoughts on “Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

  1. The weather the world over is all haywire John. Mother nature is sure irate with us all.
    There is something about the era of using tinned creamed soups and mayonnaise. I wonder why they were so popular?
    Mom’s casserole is most definitely comfort food – fabulous!
    Have a super day and stay warm. :-) Mandy xo

    • Thanks, Mandy. It’s rained all day, though temps will drop tonight and the arctic freeze is due to come back next week. Yikes! I don’t know why these casseroles were so popular back in the day. Maybe because they were so easy to prepare and few kids disliked them. Peace at the dinner table was just as important than as now. :)

  2. Oh, you got me hooked at “mayonnaise”. I love it, and this seems to be a wonderful casserole. Never mind frozen veggies, I’m an unorthodox foodie :-D I have to convince my husband though, to mix tuna and mushrooms… Gosh, now I’m hungry!

  3. Now this is difficult, John. Amongst my friends it is know that even the mention of “Tuna Bake” can bring me out in hives. There’s something about the smell that says “old peoples’ institution” or “madhouse” and I’m trying to avoid both of those places:)

  4. I have a very similar recipe that originates from my Mum. You can no longer buy condensed mushroom or celery soup here, so it’s been relegated to the past. Sad really because it tasted so good!

    • No cream of mushroom soup? Back in the day, the Campbell Soup Co would have gone out of business if they could not make and sell it. I’d be willing to wager that every pantry in America had at least 1 can a shelf. Mom sure did. :)

  5. Pingback: Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole | Food | Recipe Flash | Your all in one Recipe and Cooking News Aggregator

  6. You don’t like cilantro?!!! OMG!!! ;)
    Well, it’s OK, I forgive you :)
    I told you I was looking forward to read this recipe, just the name of it brings warm and comfort. I don’t have any problem with mayo or canned soup, does that mean that I’m old enough to appreciate their convenience?…humm…
    Thanks for sharing John, it looks delicious
    G

  7. I’ve thought of going back through those old church cookbooks (or Junior League) and trying to re-create and update those old popular recipes without using cans of soup, but after I saw what Chris Kimball (Cook’s Illustrated) went through for Green Bean Casserole I decided it wasn’t worth it…if I want Mom’s Cheesy Spaghetti, I’ll use Campbell’s :)
    That said, this sounds so awesome in the cold, nasty winter…all warm and filling! Truly Comfort Food!

    • I saw that episode, Marie. I’m not one for a Green Bean Casserole to begin with but to go through all that, on Thanksgiving? It is not going to happen. I’ll open a can of soup and have a martini during the time I save. I made this during the last cold snap and it sure was good. It sure won’t be years before I make it again.

    • It’s something to see how many commenters have memories of casseroles similar to this one. I wonder why it is so rarely made today?
      Our weather took a turn towards warmth today. It’s been raining all day long, though things are supposed to get colder again tonight. Now they’re saying there could be another arctic blast next week. Looks like I’m going to need to find another casserole recipe. :)

    • You’re so welcome. Yeah, this will definitely put an end to many New Year’s dieting resolutions. There is nothing low-fat/low calorie about it. And it tastes so good because of it! :)

  8. This looks like a true winter classic. We used to have a very similar casserole growing up. My mom put crushed Cheez-Itz crackers on top. I have several recipes using condensed soups too that I have toyed with trying to recreate. For some reason my Grandma used cream of mushroom soup in her beef stroganoff, ah but the memories of her homemade egg noodles that she made with it are so yummy! Must look into this, though for now it is warming here, mid 70s today. Of course that doesn’t mean much, it could be snow again next week at the rate we are going! Thanks for a great story and yummy recipe.

    • You’re so welcome. This was the first can of condensed soup I’ve bought in ages. I really haven’t recreated it but my cooking has changed. I’ve never thought to make my own noodles for a casserole. I make pasta so frequently that making noodles for a casserole should be a no brainer. I have to remedy this. Your Grandma knew best! :)

    • I’m surprised how many people have such fond memories of this casserole, Colline. I did make a large amount and, though I’m not much of a breakfast person, I did enjoy it for a couple lunches and another dinner. It’s a bit of nostalgia on a plate. :)

  9. This looks wonderful John. I love the idea of both the chicken and tuna versions… delicious!!! It’s been a very long time since I’ve made a tuna noodle casserole but both Aaron and I were actually talking about making one yesterday. We ate them as children and loved every bite :) I think your post is a confirmation of our desire to revisit the recipe… I will try the Bartolini version, it looks wonderful.

    • Thank you, Laura. I haven’t made this dish in ages and was so glad that I thought of it. With our weather so cold, this casserole made a perfect meal. It really did remind me of being kid at Mom’s table. If you do make it, I hope you both enjoy it, too. :)

  10. Had me chuckling at “…we didn’t have foodies back then…” Food does describe our society and culture, doesn’t it…quite like language in an edible form. It tells a story of necessity and luxury. The tunafish casserole sounds like the perfect thing for winter and I can just about taste it…I think I may have had something quite similar back in the day when I was a kid.

    • Yes, food has become a language all its own. I think the internet has played a large role in that, too. So many have said that this dish reminds them of a casserole they enjoyed in their youth. I wonder why it fell out of favor. I rarely hear it mentioned anymore. No matter. I’m just glad I found it again. It sure was a warming meal on those cold nights.

  11. I’ve just sent this link to a north American friend living in exile in London and she’s demanding that I cook it for her – apparently her mom used to make one very similar. It looks like the ultimate comfort food! One quick query please – how much Cheddar do you use and do you add it to the noodles at the start or to the mushroom soup etc? The recipe says both. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello, Linda. Thank you for catching my error. Add the cheddar cheese to the noodles. I’ve deleted the 2nd reference. (I am the world’s worst proof reader.) I added about a half cup of cheddar, maybe a little more. When I made it this last time, I cooked 500g of noodles and used 1 large can of tuna fish. Next time, for that amount of noodles, I’ll use 2 cans. I wanted more tuna in the dish than what I had. I hope this helps and that your friend likes it. Good luck!

  12. We love tuna noodle casserole around here. I have never put cream cheese in it. Must try this. It is a comfort food under the harsh conditions of winter.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    • This winter is just too much — and we’re south of you! It rained all day today and now they’re saying the Vortex will return next week. I need to find yet another casserole recipe.

      • It was raining slush earlier- and now it’s pouring rain. Likely will wash much of the remaining snow away, but we’re to get the return to the cold next week too. ENOUGH I say. Although it has extended the hearty soup and mulled wine season…

  13. Oh yes, the snow. I posted photos of my snow on Monday, but we had more on Tuesday so you can imagine how the snow banks have grown.
    Sad to say I never had a tuna casserole. Yours look comforting though and we sure need lots of comfort food to get us through this winter. So looking forward to spring.

    • We’ve had more snow, too, Norma. It rained all day today but now the temperatures are dropping again. Today the forecaster said the Vortex could return next week. I don’t believe it! Enough already! Hurry up and get here, Spring!

  14. Beef cheeks????? Anyway…I have never tried to make nor eaten tuna casserole, just my preference. But I will say that with this weather I have made two things for first time ever – seafood chowder and split pea with ham soup :)

    • I think yo’d like beef cheeks. Very tasty. I know I’d love a bowl of your chowder and split pea. I love a thicker soup when it’s dreadful outside. And it has been dreadful outside.

  15. Never had a tuna noodle casserole, the mayo would have to be substituted by something else, as mayo doesn’t enter our premises ;-) Both Phil and I detest the thing with a passion…. now, pass me all your cilantro, will you?

    I think there’s nothing like comfort food from our childhood days. It speaks to the heart, directly. In soft whispers… :-)

    • You are so right. I’m sure part of my fondness for this dish has to do with the memories it evokes. I cannot separate the dish from the nostalgia. I would gladly pass along the cilantro to you, Sally, if I ever bought some. I did buy a bunch, several years ago, thinking it was parsley. I double-check the leaves now. :)

  16. My dear friend, your words always take me back, to a simpler yet happy time. Tuna casserole is definitely a ‘Mom dish’ but not my dear Mom! JTs dear sweet Mom! I hadn’t ever tried it until I met JT. She too used canned soup (either cream of mushroom or celery) but her difference was to crumble potato chips on top instead of bread crumbs! You can imagine what a ‘treat’ I thought that was? Potato chips on dinner? Quite unheard of in my family. I haven’t made it in years, must give it a go again for old times sake.
    Good old Galloping Gourmet, another fond memory, thank you.
    We’ve been getting a lot of very chilly days too but we’ve also been getting way too much snow, record breaking as you mentioned. We don’t have space to shovel it anymore. Oh how I long for summer.

    • Thank you, Eva. I’m glad that you enjoyed this post and that it brought warm memories to mind. This dish definitely has a high nostalgia quotient. Quite a few have memories of it being served years ago. I seem to recall Mom using potato chips atop some casserole and, yes, we all thought it was such a treat! For whatever reason, she never did it again. Maybe she’d run out of bread crumbs and tried potato chips as a last minute substitute. :)
      Wasn’t that Graham Kerr something? I was too young to actually cook anything but he sure did have a good time doing it.
      Today was a warm one and it rained all day. There was even thunder. Now, though, the temps are falling and the winds are strong. There’s going to be a lot of ice to deal with in the morning. Worse yet, today they started forecasting a return of the Vortex next week. This is one Winter none of us will quickly forget.

      • Yes indeed it was Graham Kerr, I still remember watching him! I guess that was the first reality TV too, didn’t he cook in front of a live audience and always invited one lady up to dine with him at the end of the show?
        Today’s weather is alarming indeed, I’m just about to head out to shovel the snow away from the house so we avoid any flooding, although the house has been pretty good up until now, I would just hate the bother.

        • Yes, Graham and his dinner guest, plucked from obscurity in the audience. Ha! What a thrill and nerve-wracking experience all rolled into one.
          Your smart to pull the snow away from your home. An ounce of prevention … Although we got some rain and ice, it was not as bad as had been threatened — at least not here. It’s a good thing, too, because flooding along the rivers is a real concern. With the ground still frozen, any rain just runs off into the streams and rivers. As much as I’d love to see Spring get here, I hope it’s arrival is gradual. Let the snow melt slowly and keep the flooding to a minimum. Fingers crossed.

  17. Sounds wonderful! My childhood comfort casseroles all contain a can of Campbelll’s “something” – your recipe and story bring back a flood of good memories. You pushed me to pull out one of my old favorites – thank you!

    • You are so welcome, Nancy. What would our Mothers have done without Campbell’s condensed soups? I bet every pantry in America once had at least 1 can of condensed soup on a shelf. Those old recipes are great, too. I wouldn’t make them every week but, once in a while, they sure do hit the spot.

  18. I have a chicken recipe that uses a tin of condensed tomato soup. Those that don’t know love the recipe and those that hear the ingredients turn their nose up at the mention of the can of soup. I wouldn’t change the inclusion of the soup because it is what makes it. It is one of our favourites. Your recipe sounds delicious and more importantly one of those recipes where if its freezing outside you probably have all the ingredients anyway. Will be giving it a go. BTW we love that Burrata so much I am waiting for another delivery this afternoon! which is all down to you.

    • Thanks, Maria. There was a reason these casseroles were so popular and it’s because they all tasted so good. Those cans of soup played a big role in creating that flavor. You’re right, too. It is a “pantry dish” because most of us have the ingredients in our pantries. And few will warm you better when it’s so cold outside.
      That Burrata really is something, isn’t it? It’s such a treat!

  19. Morning John, you are so right about these recipes of our mothers! (Though I have a secret love of condensed milk, we used to drink it in our tea when we stayed with our grandma.) Also my favourite vegetable in the winter is peas! Love them. I think i might make this soon too. It reads like a recipe both John and Sandy might like. Good hearty food. There is SUN today! Isn’t that fantastic! c

    • Hey, Celi! I’d be surprised if Sandy doesn’t have her own recipe for this casserole. It sure was popular back in the day and I bet she has at least one can of condensed soup in her pantry. Mom always had a couple.
      The rain has stopped but the winds have arrived. The temps are dropping, too. Tomorrow will be another good day to stay indoors, at least until they get the roads salted. The commuters will have a rough go of it until then.

  20. The Galloping Gourmet! I do remember… Graham Kerr was it? Oh, how time flies. I don’t have any issues with mayo nor canned soup. (Do I hear a gasp?) Your casserole looks wonderful, although I have to admit that I’ve never had a tuna casserole. I could see the comfort food in this and I wish my fridge was as well-stocked with comfort foods as yours seems to be. :-)

    • Yes, Lidia, he was Graham Kerr. What a hoot! I wasn’t at all cooking then, being in high school, but I loved to watch him. I’m finally freeing up space in my fridge and freezer. For a while, I even had food on the back porch, in my barbecue. It was probably colder there than in my freezer. Now, with it all just about gone, I have to get to a grocery and start cooking from scratch again. It was nice while it lasted. :)

  21. There’s a definite Mid-Century Modern vibe to this recipe.. I know because I recognize it from my own childhood. It’s one of my all time favorite comfort foods and I think it may have been one of my first ever recipes. Although I would have painstakingly measured every cup, I didn’t have the confidence your mom had! Mine didn’t have cream cheese in it, I think it would make it even dreamier, er, creamier than the recipe I had. I’m so glad you’ve shared this one today, I know what’s on the menu tonight!! xx

    • Howdy, Barb! This does have that vibe, doesn’t it? Seeing it rest on the countertop was a trip back in time to Mom’s kitchen. I’m glad I found the recipe. I won’t make it often but I won’t forget it for years again, either. It’s the perfect meal for a wintry day. I hope you did make a tuna casserole, Barb, whether it was this one or your own, and enjoyed it as much as I did. Comfort food at its best!

  22. This does sound like an old school casserole. This is exactly the kind of dish that I’d find in my grandmas’ kitchens. In fact, my one grandma still makes these types of dishes to this day! These types of comfort dishes were also passed down to my mom, because I know I ate something similar growing up! This looks very delicious and comforting. Mr. N and I would no doubt enjoy it. Mike won’t touch tuna though – except in sushi. Miss A hasn’t appeared to be much of a fan either, but I’ll make tuna melts on the occasional night Mike isn’t home and Mr. N and I gobble them up. :) (Miss A rarely eats a sit down meal anyway.) Sadly though I’m back on my post holiday diet. With all this cold weather, I too have spent the last few weeks eating lots of bread and pastas. It’s just so warming. The only downside…my jeans took notice and not in a good way!

    • I think you’re right, Kristy. This recipe has been around for some time. For me, the can of condensed soup was the give-away. People just don’t use it like they once did. You could always make this with leftover chicken instead of tuna, though it won’t help your jeans issues. I’ve vowed not to think about my own jeans issues until we get some warm temps for a few days in a row. The problem with that vow is that if warmer weather doesn’t get here soon, I’ll be wearing a mumu. :)

  23. How perfect a meal for this weather John. I’ve been cooking comfort foods for over a month now, not trying anything new, just the old standby’s. Do you sometimes wonder how we survived the 50′s & 60′s? Although I’m much more conscious of getting healthy food on the table I had to admit that when I grab a can of tomato soup to make a quick American Chop Suey…well I just don’t feel all that guilty. I’m pretty sure my mother went through all those casseroles that had the canned soups because of all of the Better Homes & Gardens, Women’s Day, Betty Crocker, etc. magazines geared for the stay at home mom. Campbell’s soups used to run tons of contests for new recipe ideas – I think I still have one of their annual winner’s books.
    Now the Galloping Gourmet – what a character he was!

    • You’re right, Diane. This dish is perfect for this weather. It’s warm, dills you up and, is a nice reminder of days gone by. Like your Mom, mine pulled recipes from everywhere. Without the internet, she and the neighbors traded recipes like we send emails. And condensed soups played a big role. I’ve no problem with them but I rarely have need for them now. Still, like this tuna casserole, when a recipe needs one, I’ll add it without a problem. There’s a reason those dishes were so popular: they tasted good!

  24. Your mom was trying to kill you with that heart-attack tuna casserole.  She loves you so much and wants you with her.  Be careful with those “beef cheeks”.  There was a massive recall of 8M#s of beef in the Illinois area.  Tongues, etc. were also part of that recall.  The beef came from California.

    Donna

    >________________________________ > From: from the Bartolini kitchens >To: grimleafer@yahoo.com >Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 3:20 AM >Subject: [New post] Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole > > > > WordPress.com >ChgoJohn posted: “As most of you well know, we North Americans are facing a Winter unlike any seen in decades. With severe drought in the West and Arctic cold, record snows, and ice storms to the East, you’re either praying for rain or cursing the cold. Whether this Winter” >

    • The beef cheeks were bought from a certified organic farmer at the Evanston farmers market, the last week it was open. I buy my chickens from him, too. I’m not the least bit worried about any of it.
      Thanks for letting others know of the potential problem, Donna.

  25. So funny, I was just thinking of tuna noodle casserole the other day and wanting to make one. Now it’s 70 degrees here after the ice/snow storm of last week, so I need to crank up the grill instead! :) I’ve never heard of tuna noodle casserole with corn, peas or cream cheese, and wonder if that’s a regional thing? Traditionally down here I’ve seen it made with cream of mushroom soup and cheddar, and probably mayo. My mom made a bechamel cheese sauce for hers and I think noodles and tuna were the only other ingredients besides breadcrumbs. It was too rich for me as a kid, but I came to love it. I make mine with bechamel cheese sauce with some sherry added, mushrooms and onion. All this to say how I love that we are all make the same thing, and make it so differently, usually informed by our mom’s or family experiences. And when it comes to family recipes, it’s not the same if you don’t use the same ingredients…so more power to that mayo and canned cream of…soup. Your casserole looks warming, rich and comforting. (sorry, long comment!) :)

    • Thanks, Betsy. I think a major component of any successful comfort food is the nostalgia quotient. It’s not enough that it fills and warms you, it has to remind you of your youth or of good times past. If you don’t follow the the family recipe, you might mess up the nostalgia and that’s not good! So, yes, bring on the mayo, the soup, the peas, and corn and I’ll be grinning from ear to ear.
      (Your comment was fine, Betsy.) :)

  26. This is one of those blasts from the past that I so love! I sometimes make my mother’s tuna noodle casserole, which shares the same bones as your mother’s: the can of soup, peas, etc. But no cream cheese or mayo in mine, and usually no cheddar either. I’ll definitely have to give this a try — it’s a fun recipe! And I know the flavor is just the right thing for this miserable weather we’ve been having. Thanks for this.

    • Thank you, John. This recipe really struck a chord with many. Why did it ever fall out of favor? Granted, it may not be the heart-healthiest of dishes but no one would eat it everyday. For me, it was perfect when we had those sub-zero daily highs and I pray I won’t need to make it again this season. If I do, I’ll probably have to change the ingredients to take my tears into account. I want winter to go away. Enough already!!!

  27. This is a wonderful recipe, and I’m sure it was your mom’s. I used to make tuna casserole for my kids when they were little, and haven’t made it now in years. This will be on my weekend to cook list! They are going to be so surprised when I show up at their door with this!

    • Thanks, Angeline. When I was a boy, I so looked forward to this casserole. Tastes change, though, and it was years before I tried to prepare it on my own. I would make it once every winter — until I forgot about it. Now that I’ve found it again. I’ll be making it once a winter again. I hope your kids enjoy your surprise. I would! :)

  28. Ha! When the e-mail heralding your latest post dropped into the in-box, I glanced at the title, laughed, and said to E.g., “Chicago’s really feeling the winter. Chicago John’s latest recipe is his mum’s tuna noodle casserole. Talk about comfort food!” Then I read your post. Are we kindred spirits, or what?

    My siblings and I were born between 1955 and 1963, and tunafish casserole was a staple supper item. Our mum’s version was made with leftover rice, and without cheese, but yes to the mushroom soup, buttered crumb topping, and plenty of frozen peas. Thanks for the blast from the past!

    • Got me! For a while there, it was so cold and our streets so bad that I wasn’t about to leave this house, except to push the snow blower up and down the block. Returning to a kitchen with this casserole in the oven or a pot of soup on the stove was a wonderful “Job well done!”
      I’ve really enjoyed reading these comments. So many have experiences similar to yours, of Mum or Grandma fixing casseroles similar to this one. Each has their own twist but the dish is basically the same: noodles, tuna, creamy sauce, vegetables, and a crispy top. Thank heavens for comfort foods!

  29. I definitely smile whenever I think of the Galloping Gourmet! I can’t remember his name, but I can still see his smile and hear his voice.

    We made fresh pasta on our weekend getaway, and I had such a good time and I shared about your wonderful blog, John. We made pappardelle, and they were probably just a little thick for Italian pasta, but we thought how good they would be in tuna casserole.

    And then, we discussed our love for tuna casserole–like our mother’s made–with all the condensed soup and certainly not a care in the world about calories or cholesterol. My husband would be thrilled for me to make this soon. His mom, gone for a long time now, never wrote out her recipes. She was a simple cook, but he misses her “specialties” and I think this would really satisfy.

    The Bartolini recipes travel far and are celebrated in households all over the place! That IS a great reason for a blog. :-)

    • Thank you so much, Debra. When I first approached Zia about starting a blog, we doubted whether even our family would read it. Both of us are amazed that so many, from all 4 corners of the world, prepare our family recipes. I wanted these recipes preserved and used and, by golly, they are!
      I am so glad that you had a successful first attempt making pasta. The thickness of the noodles is really a matter of personal choice. i like mine a little thinner than does Zia. The only way you’ll know what is best for you is to make it and experiment. And the more often you make pasta, the easier and quicker it becomes. One thing, though. Promise me that one day you’ll use homemade pasta to make your favorite lasagna. It will be unlike any lasagna you’ve ever had. Guaranteed!

  30. I’ve never had tuna casserole, but my mum was a dreadful cook and she would have burnt it anyway! I’ll have to give it a go ;-)
    Thinking back, I would suspect that the Grahame Kerr recipe books would have used items like tins of soup or at least consommé back in the 1960s.

    • I thought that tuna casserole was pretty much an American creation and have been surprised when a few other countries have chimed in. Even so, all speak of it in the past tense. No one has yet admitted to making it now and this is the first I’ve made it in years.
      Graham Kerr was something else. I ‘m not so sure he would have used condensed soup but he certainly would have used a can of consommé. Yes, it was the convenience, giving him time for another glass of wine with his dinner guest at the program’s end. :)

      • I remember watching the Galloping Gourmet with my grandmother in the late 60s. I don’t think he would have used condensed soup on TV, but it might have been used in the recipe books because it was normal at that time. Grahame Kerr became very health conscious in the 70s (when his wife became ill) and cut back on all fatty foods in his recipes.

  31. There’s something very nostalgic and comforting about recipes like these – and we could be all trendy and call them “vintage”! I love cilantro and tuna…and pasta and anything creamy so I think with the dreaful weather we’re having here (floods and gales over this direction) it might be a good one to make to banish the winter blues. My pal used to make a chicken bake which used dried apricots and a packet of onion soup – I know it’s not remotely like your recipe but it made me think of it nostalgically!

    • I think the best components of these dishes are the memories they evoke. I cannot prepare and eat this casserole without remembering Mom telling us that this “should warm you up.” Decades later and that’s still true. :)
      Those packets of onion soup mix were used just about as frequently as were the cans of condensed soup. They were a great way to bring a lot of flavor to a dish without a lot of work — until things like salt content became an issue. :)

    • I would have been surprised, Stefan, if you had seen/heard of this dish. it is very American and went out of style some time ago. When we started eating healthier, casseroles like this one were left behind. More than a recipe, this, for me, was a trip down Memory Lane.

  32. Ah, John, you’ve taken me back. That’s my childhood on a plate. Sometimes my mom made it without the pasta and went really international by putting La Choy chow mein noodles on the top. :)

    • You’re not alone, Michelle. This casserole has struck a chord with a number of people. Your Mom, though, was so cosmopolitan! La Choy chow mein noodles? Wow! A dinner with La Choy products was a real treat for us. Back then no one would have dreamt of making any of them from scratch — save about a billion Chinese, of course. :)

  33. Oh dear John, I am in trouble here. I don’t do peas OR mayonnaise but I do like the sound of your recipe. I used to make, many, many years ago, a macaroni cheese to which I used to add tinned fish and corn kernels. It has the same comforting feel to it as your dish. Adding the tinned soup is really a blast from the past.

    • Not to worry, Glenda. This dish probably has something to offend everyone. Either find a substitute or just skip that ingredient altogether. :)
      I bet your mac & cheese with the tuna and corn was a great dish, too. It would certainly help to banish the chill from our bones. :)

  34. What fun. I know I am a gourmand and definitely not a foodie. But I love cilantro and I love mayo. Not sure where that puts me. Chicago has had horrible weather which makes my brother wonder why he ever stayed. We had 60 today in Denver but at the moment it is thundering and raining cats and dogs. go figure. I’m in need of tuna casserole! Do you know my mother never made it? Ever! So I never have either. That is going to change!

    • When I worked behind the bar, I often met people who had just moved into Chicago. If they moved here in April, May, or June, they were here to stay. If they moved in October, November, or December, they’d be gone soon, sometimes in weeks. This city’s best asset is its Summers. The promise of a great Summer makes our Winters bearable. Although this Winter is testing that hypothesis. The Summer of 2014 had better be fantastic!

  35. We never had this at my family home when I was a kid, sadly, but I made it in my own home in the early years – it was cheap and simple. I still have an affection for it and use a similar recipe… and still have tin of condensed cream of mushroom soup in the cupboard at Taylors Arm on standby.
    Ooohhhh beef cheeks. The G.O. and I… well mainly me, already invoked them for our winter menu, as well as your baked ham :)

    • I said in an earlier comment that there was a time here in America where I bet every pantry had at least one can of condensed soup on a shelf. Mom’s always had a couple.
      Those beef cheeks were a lucky find at the farmers market. Now I cannot wait for its return to see if I can get lucky again … er … if I can find beef cheeks again. ;)

    • You’re not alone, Margot. Many have said much the same and often have their own version. This recipe really struck a chord and I’ve enjoyed reading the comments. (Next time I’m trying cream of asparagus. That sounds terrific!)

  36. No heat minus the oven in Chicago??? Wow! I think I’d be camping out in the kitchen, keeping fat and warm with a constant supply of comfort food from the oven. ;-)

    And I’m all about the ingredients/flavors in this casserole and the toasted bread crumbs look perfect.

    • I think there’s been a misunderstanding, Jedd. Only my kitchen lacks a heating element. Using the oven to cook comfort foods warms me and my kitchen. And when I step on a scale, I blame my cold kitchen for the weight gain because I would surely eat only salads if that room wasn’t so cold. Honest! ;)

  37. Hurray ! I’ve been looking for this recipe for years! This was so popular when I was growing up, although my mother couldn’t prepare it for my father – who was strictly “meat & potatoes’. Back then a can of tuna could make sandwiches for 4 – 5 people – so I can see why you mentioned ‘upping’ the amount of tuna if a lot of noodles are involved. I can’t wait to make this – thanks John!

    • Thanks, Cecile. I made this using an imported farfalle, so, there was 1.2 pounds of noodles (500 g). I like tuna and should have used another can for that amount of noodles. Use your own judgment and I’m sure it will be fine. If you do prepare this, I hope you’ll enjoy it. The Polar Vortex is supposed to return and this will be a great dish to enjoy when it gets here. :)

  38. Coming towards the end of a blog break I have been reading the recipe and all the comments and having a very comfortable laugh!! With hardly any sleep under my belt over the past fortnight, may I be a horrid copycat and agree with Sally [no mayo in this house either, nor tinned soups or cream in my case :) !] and I do have to grin alongside Stefan!!!! Amazing how many times mothers and grandmothers are mentioned!! And, oh boy, I thought Graham Kerr was a Brit but one of ours ~ do remember watching him when somewhat younger :) !!! Since I am fervently trying to avoid a heart attack, am looking forwards to the ever fashionable beef cheeks next week :D !

    • I had a feeling, Eha, that you and this recipe would not agree. This casserole was very popular here, back in the 60′s. Of course, few knew anything about salt content, fat, or cholesterol. I bet my Mom viewed recipes like this as a break in the monotony of cooking Italian every day. She could get dinner on the table relatively easily and quickly. It is rarely made now, for people, like yourself, are far more educated about the foods they eat.
      I hope you’ll enjoy the beef cheeks recipe. I did. :)

      • Oh but John, I ‘disagree’ with a big smile! Altho’ dishes like this and mac’and’cheese are somewhat ‘American’ as we know it now compared to us, I do remember reading recipes like that on the back of some soup tin at the supermarket: just did not make them even then – forgive me when I admit that most tinned soups I have tasted have had an artificial tang and far too much salt even when I was a total novice to cooking :) ! And certainly ‘healthy’ cooking had as yet to be ‘discovered’!!

    • I agree. This is not an Italian recipe. It’s about as American as one will find. Tastes have changed now, though, and it is rarely made.For me, it is a reminder of eating at my Mother’s dinner table as a boy. :)

  39. What a blast from the past! It might be a fun experiment to try to recreate this using ‘foodie’ friendly ingredients. Of course, it might lose some of its charm without the condensed soup!

    • Thanks, Mary Frances. I wish I was talented enough in the kitchen to re-create this dish using modern day sensibilities. If I could, I’d be a hero! As you mentioned, though, I wonder if the nostalgia element would still be there. I cannot prepare this dish without remembering Mom. :)

  40. I used to love the Galloping Gourmet!! He was so funny :) Now, this is a traditional tuna casserole, not that I’ve ever had one because I grew up in England. We had fish pies with mash on top. I did make a tuna casserole once after I saw it on a show but all the excitement was marred by the fact that I sliced open my finger on the can of tuna and couldn’t stop bleeding. So, you can imagine my fear :)
    Foodie or not, this is pure comfort soup, besides you can buy organic mushroom soup now ;)
    Looks wonderful, John!

    • Hello, Nazneen! Good to “see” you. :)
      Yes, that Graham Kerr was really something. I couldn’t help but laugh at his silly puns and antics. I do understand, having cut my hand on more cans than I care to remember. Why they haven’t all gone to “pull tops” is beyond me.
      You’re right. This is comfort food on a plate, no 2 ways about it. And for many of us, it comes with a hearty helping of nostalgia. :)

  41. My mom made a very similar tuna casserole, but no mayonnaise and canned mushrooms. Oh those wonderful canned mushrooms. :) Gotta love this dish!

  42. I’ve been wondering for about an hour whether to comment on this recipe! I first learned about tuna casserole when I had just moved to Midland, Texas, and proceeded to have my 2nd baby within a week. A new neighbor of ours was nice enough to bring over this exact casserole, except that it had potato chips on it! I was so appalled, I refused to even taste it. It was the combination of the canned tuna, the can of soup, with which my Kansas-born husband was very familiar, and the potato chips. It’s just that my French mother really sheltered me all those years, in spite of us living in the US. She never opened a can, and probably didn’t know what potato chips even were! I’ve relaxed over the years, but have never used canned soup, and certainly never used potato chips in my cooking. That’s not a judgment, that’s just me. I love the sentimentality of your casserole, however. And that’s what’s important!

    • You moved that close to your due date? Gosh, Mimi, you’re Wonder Woman!
      Considering how many foods Mom and Zia made from scratch, I’d be willing to bet she was drawn to this dish because it was so easy to prepare and would feed us all easily. Potato chips, though, was a bit too far for her to go.
      For me, today, the main attraction of this dish is the memories that it evokes. I cannot prepare it without remembering Mom. :)

  43. I must admit, I have never made a tuna casserole, but this is really appealing for a number of reasons. it is always a privilege when a family recipe is shared, I love the idea of adding noodles – another casserole first for me, I always have tinned tuna handy and finally, it looks very warming and comforting – perfect for the foul wintery weather we are experiencing. Thanks!

    • This really is an American dish from the past, before there were TV stations or websites devoted to cooking. The only way it would have made it across The Pond is if some expat brought the recipe. Even so, as you mentioned, when the weather gets real nasty, this casserole is a great way to fight back. Believe me, it works! :)

  44. I LOVE tuna casserole, and this one looks fabulous – canned soup, mayo, cream cheese et al. Sometimes, in life, you need a big helping of tuna noodle casserole done just this way. As my friend would say, “It’s like a big hug.”

    Also, I greatly respect any recipe that survives as many technological obstacles as you’ve described here. This recipe rightly deserves a place in the Bartolini Kitchens Hall of Fame.

    • Thank you, Ruth. I had forgotten all about this dish and finding the recipe was Divine Intervention. I prepared it as we were heading into the last Vortex and it was wonderful! Mom would have been proud!
      If ever a recipe deserved an award for survival, this one — and all those in that file — surely do. ;)

  45. @”As most of you well know, we North Americans are facing a Winter unlike any seen in decades.” – yes, we do know from CNN-international… :) I suggest you move here, just 2h-drive from my city: :)
    http://myvirtualplayground.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/weekend-collioure-la-ville-des-fauves/
    * * *
    another super-yummy post: we love tuna, especially the Spanish white one in olive oil that I use in my mixed salads with “endives”… :) Grazie for dropping by crossroads, my very best and a serene week! cheers, Mélanie

    • Ah, Melanie. I had my chance to move to France but said, “Non”. I considered moving to Italy — and said, “No.” I love my city and home.
      I am sorry I’ve been so late to visit your blog. I have been very busy here and have grown far behind in getting to the blogs I want to read, I need to re-think the way I manage my time. What I am now doing is not working. :)

  46. stiamo seguendo in Tv i grandi disagi del popolo americano per il clima, qui da noi il clima è mite, già avanza la primavera e gli alberi sono fioriti, il freddo non si è quasi sentito, ma ci sono state molte piogge, con alluvioni e frane in molte parti d’Italia, il clima sta cambiando ovunque a causa dell’incuria dell’uomo…allora sì, molto meglio rifugiarsi nell’ottimo cibo che tu ci proponi, ho copiato la ricetta e credo che quanto prima la proverò in cucina
    buona notte
    We are following on Tv the great hardships of the American people for the climate, the climate here is mild, already makes the spring and the trees are in bloom, the cold is almost not heard, but there were plenty of rains, floods and landslides in many parts of Italy, the climate is changing everywhere due to the carelessness of man … then Yesmuch better to trust in the great food that you propose, I copied the recipe and I believe that the sooner the try in the kitchen

    • Yes, our weather is bad this year, worse than it has been in decades. I’ve also read of the rains and floods in Italy and Great Britain. You’re right, It’s man’s carelessness that’s the cause. Thank you, Ventis, for commenting. If you do try this recipe, I hope that you’ll enjoy it. :)

  47. What wonderful comfort food, John, truly. I’ll have to swap out the mushroom elements if my older son – who would otherwise be all over this recipe – is going to try it, but that’s easily done I hope. Staying warm by the heat of your oven sounds like a pretty good deal, and that well stocked freezer is a blessing. Having enjoyed a particular chili or lentil soup a few too many times in a row recently, though, I know what you mean about wanting to mix things up.

    You totally threw me off with mentioning your dislike of cilantro, though. Say it isn’t so, John! :)

    • You can easily skip the mushrooms and no one will be the wiser. Nothing about this recipe is set in stone. Sorry though, I just don’t like cilantro — and I’ve tried. It was never used in our cooking when I was growing up and I just cannot get used to it now. :)

  48. Your vile winter is often reported on our news in the evenings. It seems to be the most severe and the most harsh in decades. I don’t know how you all are coping. Meanwhile, back in Oz, we’ve had very little rain and much of the country is in drought – again! It never seems to stop for the poor farmers. Anyway, when I first started cooking I made a lot of chicken casseroles that all called for a can of condensed soup and some mayonnaise. And yes, in the winter, these casseroles were very warming and tasty. I love how you’ve been keeping yourself warm by cooking up a frenzy! xx

    • Thanks, Charlie. We get news report of your drought here, too. Earlier it was the extreme heat and the ever-present wildfires. And the poor Brits are getting soaked. We — Man — have really messed things up. Just this morning, they reported that Alaska’s average temperature was 15˚ warmer than normal for Winter and we’ve got another arctic blast hitting us over the next couple days.
      Mom always had a can or two of soup on her pantry shelf. She, long with the neighbors, all used them in casseroles. Most of the recipes came out of magazines. There were no cooking shows, save Julia Child. :)

  49. John, it HAS been so cold for you! It sounds like you’ve been keeping well fed – essential in this kind of weather! The tuna casserole made me smile – it IS an old recipe, as the can of soup gives away, but I bet it tasted delicious. It reminded me of an old recipe I read recently, which had on its ingredients list – “a can of brie”. Remember when soft cheeses came in tins? :)

    • Yes, it has been cold, Celia, but I’m lucky that I needn’t go out in it if I don’t want to, unlike poor Celi. I don’t know how she does it. We had plenty of cheese in the house but bought it all from the Italian markets. I do not remember any of it being tinned. I’ll have to ask Zia about it. Canned brie? Oh, my!

  50. Bring on the gourmands with a big brass band fanfare John! roll on a return to (some) of the 60s and 70s recipes. You have reminded me my mum used to use condensed soups all the time – I remember creamy chicken and rice dishes which always started with a can of soup :) Happy days and good warming tasty food. Nothing wrong in that!

    • You Mum and mine may have read the same magazines. Back then, they were a great source for recipes. Well, the neighbors, too, often supplied Mom with new dishes to try. That soup, though, played a big role in many of them. Those dishes may not have been the healthy by today’s standards but they sure kept us warm and full. :)

  51. Ah! This is my kind of comfort food. Open the cans, throw them together, and savor. I guess those days these were used more so because there was so little information on them, and frankly, people concentrated more on food than on the ingredients – after all, most ate fresh anyway and lived loooooong happy lives! My grandma ate at i cup of sugar everyday, and still lived to be 90, hale and hearty. This post is so comforting, especially when this winter is driving us nuts. More polar depressions this week. Bring it on. With this kind of food, we are ready to battle :)

    • Ha! I love how you think, Minnie. This Winter has been a battle, all right. I’m hoping this is the last vortex for the year. I think we’ve had more than enough. I still have leftovers, though, so, I am ready if the weather gods aren’t finished messing with us. :)

  52. Marvelous recipe, John. IMO, this goes beyond comfort food into the realm of soul food. I like your mention of your freezer/fridge of leftovers. It might make a fun post for you to give us a peek inside some day!

    • Thank you so much. I wish I had thought about taking a picture. For a wile, I placed leftovers inside my barbecue on the back porch. They all froze solid and kept well out there. Now that would have been the picture to snap! Now, unfortunately, it’s all clear.

  53. I remember the galloping gourmet, okay now that is dating me… However, so who cares if this recipe has a creamed soup and mayo, its all about comfort in difficult times and let me tell you mother nature is being a real pain this year. Sending warm thoughts your way…

    • Thanks, BAM. The worrisome thing about the weather is that it’s not just us. California is having a severe drought. England and Italy are having plenty of rain with floods hitting some areas. Australia is, also, drought stricken. Meanwhile, the average temperature for Alaska this winter is 15˚ above normal. This is not good.
      You’re right about comfort food. This isn’t a dish I’ll be making weekly. It sure was good, though, and brought to mind some wonderful memories — and warmed up my kitchen! :)

  54. Pingback: Anna-Lou’s Broccoli Tuna Casserole | gluadys' cookbooks

  55. CJ, my mother made her tuna noodle casserole with homemade roux. I made mine with Cream of Something soup! I love your recipe for Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole with mayo and cream cheese. Sounds absolutely delicious just as it is. (P.S. I haven’t forgotten you… been sick for several weeks with bronchitis and now that I’m on the road to recovery, a number one priority is catching up on my favorite blogs!)

    • Welcome back, Kathleen! Bronchitis is nothing to trifle with and I’m glad that you’re feeling better. If I lived closer, I would have brought you some of Mom’s soup. It always worked for us. I hope you’re back to 100% real soon.

  56. My mom always made Tuna casserole for Ash wednesday. I think I’ll do that this year. I’ve actually rediscovered mayonaisse after years of shunning it. My mom never put corn or peas in hers, and probably not cream cheese. And will come back another time to try the pizzaola – another thing my mom used to make. Love this site.

    • For me, it’s great when a recipe is associated with a holiday or special day. For me, preparing the dish brings wonderful memories to mind. I hope you’ll find the same to be true. This recipe is very forgiving. Forget about the peas, corn, and even cream cheese. It’s still going to result in a dish of comfort food.
      I’m glad you enjoy my site. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave such a great comment.

  57. Ohhhhhh. This brings me back to my childhood! I loved my mother’s tuna casserole (or ‘tuna mornay’ as we call it here in Aussieland). She often served it with pasta shells or rice, I used to devour every mouthful! You’ve made me want to revisit the recipe. Great post as always John, will try your version. I like the addition of the soup, that’s a new ingredient to me!

    • Thanks, Laura. Amazing how many others shared your response. This is one dish packed with nostalgia! That can of condensed soup was a mainstay of every American kitchen back in the day, long before TV chefs and cooking shows. The soup company bought adverts in magazines that included recipes featuring their condensed soups. Mom always had at least 2 cans in her pantry. :)

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