Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Comfort Food

UPDATE: I saw my mother today and she said that she shredded an 8 oz block of white cheddar cheese for her tuna noodle casserole. 

Last week at work we had a comfort food lunch--we all brought in comfort foods for everyone to enjoy.  I brought in chili (which didn't turn out quite as I'd hoped--I should add tomato paste next time).  We had meatballs, Shepard's pie, ham and cheese sandwich rolls, fennel and sweet potato lasagna. . .oh, it was good.

We started talking about comfort food and I realized that we all have very different ideas about comfort food, and different recipes and ways of making the same dish.

My big comfort food dish is tuna noodle casserole, but not the way most people make it.  My mother never used cream of mushroom soup when she made it--in fact, I was shocked to learn that was a typical and major ingredient for it in most recipes.  She kept it very simple--cook a package of egg noodles until they are al dente; mix them with a half a cup (or more, depending on your taste) of shredded white cheddar cheese, one can of drained, flaked tuna, and a splash of milk (just a splash).  She often added in a thawed package of frozen spinach and a small can of sliced black olives.  Bake at 350 degrees until the top gets crispy and brown, eat, and enjoy.  Oh, my.  It was the one thing about Lent I liked--we'd have this every Friday.

I make it myself on occasion.  Sometimes I add extra vegetables--beans or peas, or chopped mushrooms, or chopped green peppers. Whatever's on hand, though spinach and olives are a must for me.  I'll also put in herbs--often it's some garlic and oregano or thyme. 

One of my coworkers came in today and told me that the conversation had her craving tuna noodle casserole, so she made one--with the cream of mushroom soup, lots of cheese, the noodles and tuna, olives, lots of garlic and herbs, and then she put crumbled potato chips on top and let it bake.  Which just sounds decadent and homey and so not what any self-proclaimed foodie chef would want to eat.  But it would be perfect for the likes of me.


  1. Okay, so what is your mother's recipe in full?

  2. It's one package of cooked egg noodles, mixed with a shredded 8-oz block of white cheddar cheese, a defrosted package of frozen spinach (8-10 oz), a can of tuna, a small can of sliced olives, and a splash of milk, mixed together and baked in a greased casserole dish at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. That's it! You can put some sliced tomato on top if you like--she does that sometimes.