Original Recipe

There are lots of stories of college students surviving on ramen, but I was not one of them. After moving out of the dorms, I had to figure out the cooking situation. Sure, I've done a little bit of cooking before, but they were simple things and not quite a full meal. However, I was pretty excited about living out on my own and was determined to be a good cook. After all, if I could cook up chemicals in class without blowing anything up, cooking food shouldn't be a problem. I picked an ambitious menu for a first complete meal (pork chops, potatoes, and veggies). While the potatoes were more of a challege than I anticipated, I wound up with a delicious meal in the end, and the small triumph spurred me into being more creative and experimental. Cookbooks offered some guidance, but I preferred to create my own dishes. I had a ton of fun.

Tonight was a trip down memory lane, as my roommate and I tag-teamed to cook up one of my favorite recipes that I can call my own--my Tuna Casserole. It is a very inexpensive dish ($3-4 at most), and it can last quite a few meals if you are cooking for yourself. It is really easy to make, and will leave you wanting more. I have even gotten non-fans of tuna to enjoy it.

The recipe requires rotini pasta, tuna, condensed cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese, celery (or green beans), cracker or bread crumbs. I don't measure (I eyeball everything), so I can't really quantify how many ounces of this or that to put in, but you can add your best judgment. It is really hard to screw this up.

1) Pick a casserole dish or baking pan. Figure out how much rotini pasta it would take to cover about 2/3 of the depth. Boil that amount of pasta, preheat the oven to 275F in the meantime, drain, and pour into the pan/dish.

2) Grab a can of tuna (or if the dish is big, make it 2). Drain, then mix in with the pasta.

3) Slice and dice up some celery. Or, if you'd like to get rid of some green beans (which is what I did tonight), cut up some of that. Saute for a few minutes in olive oil with an optional smashed clove of garlic to flavor. Mix in with the pasta and tuna.

4) Open up a can (or 2, if the dish is big) of condensed mushroom soup. Mix it in with the pasta mixture until you get a nice, creamy concoction.

5) Add in a little bit of cheddar cheese and mix with the pasta. This will give the casserole a little bit more cohesiveness when it's done. When that's done, cover the top of the pasta mixture with cheddar.

6) The crust can be made from either Italian bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. I prefer breaking up thin, crunchy water crackers in Ziploc bags, then pouring it all over the top to create a very crunchy crust. We used Italian bread crumbs tonight and it was quite good.

7) Bake for 20 minutes, or a tad longer if you want a toastier crust.

8) Eat.

1 comment:

Elaine said...

This does sound very easy. I will have to try it soon! At least I only have to get two things from the grocery store!