Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This really isn't your Grandmother's TUNA CASSEROLE a post with lot's of secrets

I pondered and pondered how to make this pretty...

All I ended up with was a really pretty GREAT tuna casserole (but an ugly photo).

You have been reading along, right?

Remember this post, Marinara Sauce - This Time it IS Your Italian Grandmother's Red Gravy?  It doesn't show it, but the pasta above (and the tuna) just sucked up the sauce.  The entire batch made (using 3 pounds of tomatoes) was used.  The secret is in the sauce for any pasta dish.

Remember this post, Pineapple Jalapeño Salsa and a Tour of the KC Farmer's market?  I showed this photo of the artisan pasta seller's stand.  I couldn't resist.  I bought a bag of LEMON PARSLEY ribbon pasta.  The kind with the wavy edges.  I like the wavy edges.  First, it looks so much better, but also (more importantly), the wavy edges help to grip the sauce.  Like I said, the secret is in the sauce, but if you get a good pasta, in the best shape, that could be a little bit of a secret too.

So, I knew I was making sauce.  I had a big bag of top notch pasta.  Only question was what the final dish would be.  On the way home from the market, I asked Jackie (communication, that is a secret of a happy marriage).  I was horrified when she said she would really like a tuna casserole.

I suffered a flashback while driving that potentially could have caused a train reaction crash shutting down a key artery of the nation's Interstate Highway system.  The ghosts of hideous tuna casseroles past seized my mind. My brother and I would hide the monthly Better Homes and Garden Magazine, praying that my sainted mother would not make another hot tuna dish (their secret was usually Velveeta or Cream of Mushroom soup... I threw up in my mouth a little when I remembered the infamous March 1969 issue that featured a tuna casserole with the soup and topped by the processed cheese food).

But, as the T-shirt says, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" (T-shirts often extol secrets.  Some days when my life has no direction, I hang out at Wal-Mart to read advice.  But I digress).  So, I swallowed the bile building in the back of my throat, and agreed.

But I had one secret in my back pocket... Internet Search Engines!

Long story short (too late), I found this recipe that would use not only the tomatoes that I had bought, but also the half pound of Kalamata Olives I had bought at the market.

And not a can of soup in sight.

So, here's the original link (a NY Times recipe).  But of course I made a few changes... 

Here's what I did...

Made 6 servings

2 packages of Albacore Tuna in water (sorry, I don't remember the size, but the packages are pretty standard one size fits all)
2 TBS Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic (smashed and minced)
1 batch of Marinara Sauce - This Time it IS Your Italian Grandmother's Red Gravy.  Again, I don't have a volume amount.  The recipe in the link was totally used in this recipe.  I am guessing it is about 2 to 3 cups.
1/4 cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and sliced in half
1/2 pound of Pasta, I used a Parsley Lemon Artisan Pasta
Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese to taste
Ground Pepper to taste

Note: No extra salt should be added to the recipe.  the Olives are packed in a brine, and add all the salt taste you need.  Also, I used a generous amount of "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence", my herb mix that I always have a little baggy of around the house, in my Marinara Sauce - This Time it IS Your Italian Grandmother's Red Gravy.  You may want to add extra herbs (parsley, dill, thyme, etcetera) if you use a jar sauce (but don't, be a cook and grab some cheap tomatoes, save money and make your own... but I digress)...

Cook the sauce
Cook the pasta
Mix everything
Top with Cheese, Olives and Pepper

And OMG... OMG... OMG...

The secret is a little bit in the sauce, but the real secret to this dish is the Olives.  Salty, spicy and amazing.  I mean really amazing.  Totally unexpected how really good this recipe is.  And shhh, don't spread this secret around, but imagine how healthy this is.  Lots of veggies in the sauce, tuna for protein and vitamins, health benefits of Olive Oil and Garlic... This has it all.

But that doesn't matter as much as the taste.

The secret is in the taste!

Sorry Mom, but this is not my Mother's Tuna Casserole.

And speaking of tomatoes, come back tomorrow, I'll share a rich thick hearty (and cheap this time of year), Tomato Soup, no wait, actually it is a bisque, but I'll explain that next post...



  1. So funny. I never thought of hanging out at Wal Mart for inspiration! That is definitely not your Mother's tuna casserole. Hiding the Better Homes and Gardens . . . Why am I not surprised.

  2. This is definitely not your mama's tuna casserole. I struggled with tuna casserole growing-up, just could not make the leap. I would be willing to enjoy a plate of this creation.

  3. Now I have always liked tuna casserole...but husband isn't a big fan. This one might make it to the table without complaint. That's what I think.

  4. I hate Tuna Casserole in general but yours looks damn fine!

  5. This post made me smile Dave because I hate tuna noodle casserole and its one of my husband's favorites.

    The smell alone makes me throw up in my mouth a bit, but I lovingly make it for him in the fall and winter.

    I may actually like it if I make your version!

  6. My husband loves tuna noodle casserole and I shutter every time he asks when are we going to have it. I love the sauce in yours and it's gorgeous too. Great going Dave.

  7. Hmmm maybe the reason my life has no direction is that I don't spend enough time at Walmart. Noted.

    This looks awesome! Way better than my momma's tuna casserole. Ok she never made tuna casserole but I promise this is better.

  8. You know, I've never been able to eat tuna casserole since the "Eighth-Grade-Home-Ec.-Debacle", but you make me almost want to try it with three (3) OMG's in a row. :D
    And we used to go to OK for Thanksgiving and the Wallyworld rifraf was a wonderful source of entertainment. Such fashion statements!