OG Cuisine: Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Sarah on May 27, 2011

Don’t laugh.

No really, I mean it.  Do not laugh.  Really.  Because I made tuna casserole.

Would you believe that I’ve never eaten tuna casserole?  Nope, never.  I think my dad was scarred, mentally and possible physically, from Nana’s Friday night Tuna Fish Hotdish and he thankfully never made it for me.  And Nana had outgrown condensed soup casseroles by the time I came around.

I happened to be flipping through some of my ancient Gourmet magazines, (YES I’ve kept them ALL) and I came upon a collection of recipes from a Mother’s Day article—all the writers contributing something that reminded them of their mamas.  Of course there was a tuna noodle casserole.

But this one didn’t have any canned soup.  So I started there and then came up with something that I am completely and totally bonkers for.  I can say without embarrassment:  I freaking love tuna noodle casserole.

Basically, you’ve got to replace the soup with a savory sauce of your own.  Since the soup is usually cream of mushroom, it only makes sense to saute an enormous amount of mushrooms for your sauce.

While the mushrooms cooked down, I seasoned them with both soy sauce and sherry.  A wacky and deliciously umami combination.

So next up is making a quick roux with butter and flour, then adding chicken stock and boiling until thickened.  Then you add milk for creaminess.

Finally, season it up and add back the onion and mushroom mixture.

Flake in the drained tuna.

By the way, while all of that was happening, you boiled some egg noodles right?  RIGHT?  Right.

So I dumped all the ingredients into a big bowl and stirred about.  I’m sure you could just mix it in the pasta pot.  And I added some peas and parsley.  Because I just can’t stand it when there’s no color contrast in my food.  HONESTLY!  All brown food?  Kind of unappetizing if you ask me.

Pour the noodles into a baking dish and cover with the bestest breadcrumb mixture in the whole wide world.  (It’s just sliced white bread, whizzed in the food processor, mixed with shredded cheddar, grated Parmesan and olive oil)

Then you bake it for about a half-hour and you’re good to go.

Kind of makes you want to eat tuna casserole, doesn’t it?

Try it out!  Even if you are haunted by some horrible canned soup nightmare of a childhood casserole.  This one is worth the extra effort.

Tuna Noodle Casserole


  • I large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into brunoise
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into brunoise
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup sherry
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter + 2 Tbsp
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 big can chicken stock, 48 oz.
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice, to taste
  • 2-5 oz. cans tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1 pkg. wide egg noodles
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs, made from 4-5 slices white sandwich bread, chopped in food processsor
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • olive oil, salt, pepper


  • To make breadcrumbs: Rip bread into halves or quarters and place in food processor. Buzz until course crumbs. Pour into a bowl and combine with cheddar cheese and Parmesan. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375*. Butter your 9x12 baking dish and set aside.
  • Cook on medium high, in the 2 Tbsp butter the onion, carrot and celery until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to give off their liquid. Add soy sauce and cook again until all the liquid is evaporated. Add sherry. Again, let cook until all is evaporated. Pour mushrooms and mirepoix into a bowl and set aside and put pan back over the flame.
  • Melt the remaining 1/3 cup butter in the pan. Add the flour and whisk, cooking for at least 3 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock and let boil until it becomes a thickened sauce. Add the milk and whisk until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the mushroom mixture. Add lemon juice to taste and then flake in the cans of tuna. Don't forget to buy the tuna in the oil. It will make a huge difference here.
  • >Meanwhile, boil the noodles until al dente then drain them in a colander<
  • In the pasta pot or a large bowl, combine the noodles and sauce. I added some frozen peas and a nice handful of chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour into your buttered baking dish. Drizzle the breadcrumb mixture with olive oil and toss. Liberally cover the casserole with these cheesy breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for about half an hour, or until the top is golden brown and crunchy.


Recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine, 1994.


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