Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tune Noodle Casserole

Dorcas Annette Walker

I thought this week I’d balance out my dessert recipes with a main dish that I have made throughout the years without using a recipe. I discovered this easy-to-make version of the baked casserole as a newly-wed, while visiting out-of-state at a parsonage, and instantly fell in love. I always keep the ingredients on hand for my Tuna Noodle Casserole and have made this dish more than once when unexpected company showed up. When my daughter started cooking as a new bride, Dawn, loved this casserole so much that she made it several times a week. My poor son-in-law ate so many Tuna Noodle Casseroles that today he avoids any casserole with tuna in it. While I promise that you will love my Tuna Noodle Casserole, I would urge restraint in making it more than once a week.

There are eight species of the tuna fish with a range of different colors of flesh. Tuna are ocean-dwelling fish and are fast swimmers. They have been clocked at 45 mph. Several species are warm-blooded allowing them to survive in cooler water by raising their blood temperature above the water through muscular activity. Tuna is an important commercial fish, so much so that some species of tuna fisheries are being over-fished until some tuna fisheries are at the verge of collapse. Japan’s huge appetite for tuna has put them at the top- 17% of all the world’s tuna catch and consumption- with Taiwan in second place at 12%. Because of this wildlife campaigners warn that unless more rigid quotas are agreed on tuna may become commercially extinct. More quantities of tuna are entering the market from operations that raise tuna in net pens fed on a variety of bait fish that in return have accumulated metal from their diet causing high mercury levels. As a result the United States FDA issued guidelines of recommendations for eating tuna in March of 2004 for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children.

Canned tuna was first produced in 1903 and quickly became popular in the United States as it is easy to prepare. Only Albacore “white meat tuna” can be legally sold in canned form here in the United States. Since tuna is caught at a great distance from where it is processed the tuna is pre-cooked for 45 minutes to three hours then cleaned, filleted, packaged into cans, and sealed. The second cooking of the tuna meat is carried out inside the cans for two to four hours to kill any bacteria at processing plants and labeled. While there still remains conflicting reports of dangerous levels of mercury in certain varieties of tuna, canned tuna is very high in protein and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Many weight trainers’ diets use canned tuna as a prominent component.

My Tuna Noodle Casserole is a filling main dish comprised of creamy noodles interspersed with chunks of tuna topped by crunchy bread crumbs. Adding a green vegetable or a tossed salad quickly rounds out your meal. Preparation time for the Tuna Noodle Casserole is about thirty minutes and this recipe serves six.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 pkg (12 oz) noodles
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (6 oz) tuna- drained
½ c milk
Cook the noodles in hot water with 1tsp salt until soft and drain. Stir in cream of mushroom soup, milk, and drained tuna. Heat the noodles on low until heated through. Garnish with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, parsley flakes or fresh parsley, and toasted bread crumbs!

Toasted Bread Crumbs:
1 stick margarine
6 slices of bread (your choice)
While the noodles are cooking, melt the stick of margarine in a frying pan and crumble up the slices of bread. Stir until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Weekly tip: To keep pasta from sticking when cooking add a tablespoon of cooking oil to the water, then run the pasta under hot water when draining!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, syndicated columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcaswalker@twlakes.net For more recipes check out her Creative Mountain Cookin page at: www.dorcasannettewalker.com

1 comment:

Dorcas Annette Walker said...

Another way to make my Tuna Noodle Casserole is to add 2 c of fresh or frozen peas when cooking the noodles. This makes a complete meal in one!