This past weekend, Curt and I abandoned the children and drove to Chicago for the first time in 8 years. We stayed at a “nice” hotel… three out of 5 stars. I was nervous. The reviews weren’t so hot. Turns out, three stars in Chicago is nicer than where we stayed for our honeymoon… so we were JUST FINE. We walked approximately 4,177 miles. We ate out for every meal. We went to the planetarium. We went to Navy pier. We left Navy Pier after about 45 seconds and headed to Rush Street for dinner. We went to a midnight movie. We went to a midnight movie after buying tickets and then taking a nap at the hotel, BUT WE WENT TO A MIDNIGHT MOVIE. [Skyfall? 007, anyone? That movie is incredible. Javier Bardem… Lawd. That man has some wicked in him.] I sat in a bar waiting for a table and yelling for my school to beat Alabama… and they did. THEY DID. We ate outside on the street patio and pretended we were young and free… and we were. We sat in the park. I ordered Coke with my breakfast- because I could. I bought a shirt. Curt bought a grown-up jacket. We held hands. We ran into people we knew on the street and chatted like we were locals. We passed people we knew (TWICE!) on the highway and texted them like it happens all the time. It was an amazing weekend.
Somewhere in all that, Curt asked why we never have tuna casserole at home. After I finished choking on randomess I said, “Well, I don’t know. I guess… I don’t know. We ate it every Friday growing up. I’m sure I can make that happen.”
And so I did.
Now, this is not my mother’s tuna casserole. There is no cream of mushroom soup (since I married a man who falls on the floor and plays dead when he sees or smells a mushroom and I HAVE ENOUGH OF THAT DRAMA IN MY LIFE) and it’s quite a bit less-soupy? I dunno how to explain it. It’s got tuna and noodles, though, so it’s tuna casserole.
The boy declared it to be in his Top 10 of my Awesome Dinner Achievements. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about that, but I thought I’d pass along the recipe anyway.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- half of a green pepper, diced small
- half of an onion, diced small
- 1 stalk of celery, diced (wait for it) small
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cheese
- 12 ounces tuna
- buttered croutons for the top
Alright, Friends. Add or take away whatever you don’t like… maybe you need peas but no onions. Maybe you need some garlic? That’s just fine. I’ll never know. The trick to this whole deal was the ROUX. Watch me be fancy here: a roux is simply equal parts fat to flour and it makes a base for a sauce. There are 4 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour (which is not equal, I know) but we use half of that butter to saute the veggies in at the very beginning.
SO. Saute your veggies in all 4 tablespoons of butter. Once everything is tender and there’s still a bit of butter in the pan, sprinkle the flour and salt on top. Doing this BEFORE adding the milk will coat everything nicely without making the sauce lumpy. Once your flour is mixed in there well enough, pour in your milk and let that simmer for just a bit until it thickens… the sauce will be barely boiling. Now you can add your cheese in and heat until melted. Now mix in your tuna.
All that’s left to do is pour this over about 8 ounces of cooked and drained pasta, top with bread crumbs or crushed croutons, and then bake for about 40 minutes at 350°. BLAMO. A new family classic is born. Couldn’t be easier.
What was on your family’s regular menu rotation as a kid?