Every time I make this tuna casserole, I get to savor two memories.
One is about the casserole dish. It came from a “granny sale” that I found some years ago, on one of those Saturday mornings when I would take $20, go around to garage sales until the money was spent and the car was full.
On one of those trips, I found a set of three Pyrex casseroles in the Pink Gooseberry pattern, Cinderella shape. They came from the home of a lady who was downsizing, and they have been well-used in my kitchen ever since.
The second memory goes further back, about 30 years ago. That’s the one about how tuna casserole got me a job.
Perhaps I should say, how NOT following a recipe got me a job. But that will take me ahead of the story.
When I was in college, my parents moved. So when I came home for the summer, the new neighbors were strangers to me.
One day, I was making tuna casserole and the neighbor lady, who I’d never met, came over. She found me rooting around in the refrigerator – looking for vegetables, cheese or any other leftovers that seemed like they’d be good to put into the casserole. That impressed her.
Some months later, when she had a job opening in her Creative Services department, she contacted me.
Casseroles are great comfort food. They’re handy for using up leftovers. They give you an excuse to use your vintage Pyrex, and sometimes they have other, unpredictable benefits.
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
1 cup cubed Velveeta cheese (or any other mild cheese that melts easily)
2 large cans of tuna, drained
1 15-oz can of peas, drained
1 15-oz can plain diced tomatoes, juice and all
1 t salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ c milk
½ c cornflake crumbs to sprinkle on top
While the macaroni is cooking, fold together in a bowl the tuna, peas, tomatoes, salt, eggs and milk. You want to break up the tuna into bite-sized pieces, but not mash it. Fold in the cheese.
Drain the pasta and add to the mixture. Then scoop into a 2.5 or 3-quart casserole. Sprinkle cornflake crumbs on top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.
Leftover broccoli also goes great in this casserole. If you want to add some fresh, blanch it first. You can also play around with different kinds of pasta. We like to undercook the pasta a bit, because the casserole is going to bake. And we like elbows because that’s the way Mom always made it.
Who knows, you might come up with your own version, one that brings up your own special memories, every time you make this casserole.by