Usually bloggers, especially cooks, document their successes. But I need to get this big blooper off my conscience. Tuna casserole. Not the old-fashioned, classic back-of-the-can recipe that some Moms were famous for. Something else. An experiment, a riff on the original, gone wrong. Not as bad as Frankenstein’s monster, although that might be debatable.
I’ll blame my grandmother. She considered anything that she didn’t can herself an atrocity – with the exception of Pastene peeled whole tomatoes, chickpeas, cannelini beans, or dark tuna in oil. (My mother followed her example.) The thought process followed, that tuna casserole a recipe containing at least 2 canned ingredients, should be declared illegal. I, on the other hand, thought the recipe indescribably exotic. My friends’ mothers took pity on me and invited me for weeknight suppers.
Well, last week, channeling my grandmother, I tried to make a tuna casserole that she would have approved. I cooked up a batch of pasta, added canned dark tuna packed in oil. Then spied a can of artichoke hearts and added them and some tomatoes. While the casserole baked in the oven, I poured a glass of wine and thought about how delicious this would be.
One bite proved me wrong! The artichokes had turned a curious color of purple. The tuna dried out. It was a disaster on all counts. Deep in my soul I knew that artichoke and tomato don’t mix, and that there was no binding agent. Deep in my soul, I could hear my grandmother laughing.
Lesson learned: some things are lost in translation.
My experiments are not over. I plan to try a fresher version of the classic by making my roux, using fresh mushrooms. Entirely unsure of the tuna. Will keep you posted.
CLASSIC TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE (Makes 4 servings)
Note: You don’t need to cook the frozen peas.