Saturday, October 15, 2011

Crocktober: Crock Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole

To me, the word "casserole" loosely translates to "food you eat after a funeral." I can't fully explain this. I've only been to two funerals ever, and there were no casseroles at either. (Italians prefer Bloody Marys). I think it might have something to do with a rather hilarious book I read sometime in junior high entitled "Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral," by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. (Keep in mind, this book is also full of recipes that perfectly fit the title.) I guess that's quite appropriate, since casseroles are a rather comforting food. But just to be clear, nobody died. I just felt like making casserole.
It seems to me that a lot of tuna noodle casserole recipes call for something crunchy - crumbled chips, or crackers, or crispy fried onions - but I went with melty Swiss cheese instead. But you could always crumble something crunchy on top right before you serve it.

This recipe is perfect for a 2-quart crock, and makes about 3 entree-sized servings. I layered my ingredients in the order below, but I think as long as you've got half of the noodles on top and half on the bottom, it will work out fine. You could also mix everything together, but I think layers are kind of fun. Of course, the layers turned out to be a total bust in the serving process, but anybody who has ever made a casserole in their lives probably could have told me that they would be. Oh well.

Compared to many of the recipes I've shared with you all this Crocktober, this one cooks in no time at all, and would make a yummy lunch on a cold day.

3 cups egg noodles, uncooked
2 cans tuna, drained
1 10 3/4 oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup (reduced sodium)
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons milk

Grated Swiss cheese (optional)

1. Cook noodles according to package directions and drain, reserving a couple tablespoons of the water. Add the milk and condensed soup and mix in with the noodles.
2. Spray your crock, and spoon in about half of the noodle mixture, covering the bottom of the crock as evenly as possible. Layer in half of the onion, then the tuna, then the other half of the onion and the peas. Add the rest of the noodle mixture on top.
3. Cook on low for about 2-3 hours or high for about 2. (This is really just to heat it through. As soon as it's hot and you're hungry, it's time to eat). If you're using Swiss, add it about 20 minutes before serving.

So, I'm not really sure how I feel about this. Overall it was yummy, and with the peas I at least felt like I was pretending to have a green vegetable with dinner, but the onions were a little "fresh" for my taste. In the future I think I might quickly sautee them for just a couple of minutes before adding them to the crock. I can't complain about the flavor though. That part gets high points. I don't think this is going to go into my menu rotation, really, but I feel it's a classic, and I'm sure I'll be making it again someday. Hopefully not for a funeral.

Quote of the Day: I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tuna fish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock. ~ Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

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