Sunday, February 17, 2013

Upgrading the Oldies...Tuna and Pasta Gratin With Mushrooms and Crushed Potato Chips

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...just kidding, this is just a great recipe for an old fashioned tuna noodle casserole very popular in the 1960's and now upgraded.

If you were a kid in the 60's, the chances of getting Campbell's Tuna Noodle Casserole at least twice a month on Fridays were pretty high.  By the time my generation got married, the odds were not as high, but still there.  Just ask my kids, they remember it well.  How could you as a Mother deprive your children of something that was such a part of American culture and American cooking.  Not me!

It seems that every other recipe that came out in those days was based on one type or another of Campbell's condensed soups.  The three popular ones were of course, Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Celery and Cream of Asparagus.  You always approached the soup aisle of the grocery store with some trepidation hoping that the shelves were not empty of just the soup you needed to show off your newest casserole recipe.  Those were the days, just a can of soup to make your day.

 Nowadays, food recipes seem to have more elegant names and unusual ingredients.  If we don't feel we are knocking ourselves out, it can't be any good. Can you imagine if I just posted a recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole like Campbell's did in the 60's?  My hit average would go down the charts!

Since every generation deserves to be known for the food it craves and the food it eats,  here is my upgrade of an old favorite for the new millenium. I must say, though, that given the choice, my daughter refused to let go of potato chips in favor of Panko.  Some things never change, and shouldn't.

Serves 4


6 scallions, finely sliced
1 small box white mushrooms, (go shiitake if you want fancy)
2 TB. unsalted butter
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 package of Barilla Elbow Macaroni (Mueller's is so-o-o 1960's)
1 small can of whole red pimientos (1960's), or 1 roasted red pepper (2000's)
1 best 6 oz. canned tuna in olive oil
1 cup grated real Parmigiano Reggiano  or Gruyere Cheese
1 cup frozen petit peas
Crushed Potato Chips (1960's)  or Panko (2000's)
Dash of Paprika
Salt (1960;s) or Sea Salt (pink is so in right now) and Pepper to taste.


4 TBs. butter, unsalted
4 TBS flour
2 Cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions until al dente.  About 14 minutes.  You can add the frozen peas the last 6 minutes (I forgot them altogether!).  Rinse in cold water and strain in a colander.

In a skillet, melt the 2 TB of butter and sautee the mushrooms and scallions until slightly golden.  Add the wine and reduce to 2 TB. Set aside.

Prepare two cups of bechamel sauce:  Melt the butter, add the flour, cook on low for a couple of minutes.  Add the hot milk and stir with a whisk until sauce thickens and starts to come to a boil.  If the sauce is too thick add some wine (or some vodka from your drink)

Slice the pimentos or red peppers and add them to the sauce.  Drain the tuna and also add it to the sauce together with the mushrooms and scallions.  Add the pasta and peas (you might not want to add all  the pasta at once, so add half and continue adding until you get the ratio you like.  Stir everything together.

Add salt and pepper to taste and a dash of paprika just to pick it up a bit.

Add 1/2 cup of Parmesan, stir and invert everything into a casserole.  Sprinkle the other half of the cheese on top and about 1 cup crushed potato chips or Panko.  Sprinkle a dash of Paprika on top.

Place casserole in the upper half of your preheated oven and check after 25 minutes.  It should be bubbling and brown on top.  Wait 10 minutes before you serve (okay, five)

Do you have a favorite Campbell soup to cook with?

Recipes and Photos Lindaraxa


  1. I like your updated tuna noodle casserole. I remember the oldie well. Seems like I used to make a chicken divan with cream of chicken soup.

  2. I grew up eating this, and it's still one of my favorite things!

  3. Of course, I remember the Campbell's Tuna Noodle Casserole well. Your updated version sounds fabulous and I think I need to make this.

    Carolyn/A Southerner's Notebook

  4. Ah yes, it's one of my daughter's favorites! But this one sounds just delicious...and with Panko no less! There is nothing like a good tuna/noodle, or a really good mac & cheese, to make us all feel better. Thanks, and I'll try this later in the week...

  5. I made this for dinner last night, and my husband and I both loved it! I did add one ingredient -- some diced celery, which got sauteed with the onion and mushrooms. It added a nice bit of crunch. I will definitely make this again -- thanks!


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