My dear mom made tuna casserole for dinner far too often when we were kids and none of my sisters can stand the thought of it now. I have tried to convince Tracy, Valerie and Julie that mine is nothing like Mom’s, which I don’t think was all that bad. Although I did have a traumatic ATV accident at age 20 and lost some of my memories, ha ha! Sorry, Mom! We love you and I would give anything to have a home cooked meal made with love by you right about now.
I think Mom just dumped Campbell’s cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup into a dish combined with cooked egg noodles and called it good. (Come to think of it, I do have an aversion to egg noodles.)
When I was in college at CU Boulder a year after we got married, a coworker named Kim shared her deluxe tuna casserole with me and I was blown away at how much better it tasted with all the bonus ingredients. The salted, nutty crunch of crushed potato chips, slivered almonds on top, with chopped onion and mixed vegetables tied in with the creamy mixture that goes together well with the bite-sized rotini (or wheels, bowties or penne) makes a tuna casserole with pizzazz. I have been baking it for a few decades — my husband and kids actually go crazy when I make tuna casserole and they all adore it. Maybe some day my posterity will make fun of this frequent family meal and tell their children what they had to suffer through.
About that Campbell’s soup — I know it’s got things in it that cannot be pronounced and occasionally I have concocted tuna casserole without canned soup, attempting to make a more healthy version. But honestly when I want to cook dinner fast without thinking about it, conveniently pulling back the tab to whip open a can of cream-of-whatever soup is the way to go.
Follow the box instructions for cooking the rotini al dente. Add the frozen vegetables directly on the hot, cooked pasta to help cool it down and prevent it from steaming further (and getting more soft).
Baked Tuna Pasta Casserole with Mixed Vegetables
- 3 cups (8 ounces) uncooked rotini pasta
- 12 ounce can of tuna, drained
- 2 cups (8 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup crushed potato chips
- 1/3 cup sliced, slivered, or chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil water, and cook pasta according to the package instructions. In large bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, soup, milk, onion, parsley, poultry seasoning, pepper and cheese. Stir together well, then add hot, cooked, drained pasta. Add the frozen vegetables atop the hot rotini to help cool it down. Stir everything together, then transfer into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with potato chips and almonds. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.