Growing up, my grandmother made dinner on week nights. She had a rotation of a few meals that she made over and over again. As a child, this sometimes got old. But now that she’s gone, I wish I could have more time to spend with her and commit her recipes to memory. One of the meals she made was tuna casserole. I have tried to recreate her recipe over time and am sharing it with you today.
This is one of those meals that just screams comfort food. It’s one of my husband’s favorite meals and he always wants claim of the leftovers when I make it. I made multiple batches of this casserole and stored them in my freezer before both of my kids were born. It was so nice to have something readily available for dinner without having to cook or shop. It was a lifesaver!
I use a big can of tuna in this casserole, along with an entire bag of frozen peas. It works equally well with white or whole wheat elbow macaroni. I have even made it with other pasta shapes – whatever you have on hand. The abundance of peas in this meal make it especially kid friendly. I don’t know about you, but my kids are gaga for peas. They even like them frozen – straight out of the bag!
Here is your printable!
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 small onion - finely chopped
- 2 TBSP green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 TBSP all purpose flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 1 bag frozen peas
- 12 oz. can tuna, flaked with a fork
- 11/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup bread crumbs, tossed with 2 tsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni al dente and set aside. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add onions and peppers and cook until soft. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. Add milk and soup and cook over low heat until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the cooked macaroni, tuna, peas, and ½ of the cheese. Stir until everything is thoroughly coated. Turn off the heat. Pour the mixture into a 2 qt. buttered casserole. Top with the remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Bake until the casserole is hot and bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 35 minutes.
- To freeze: Prepare the casserole until the baking stage. Place in a freezer friendly casserole dish (I love the foil ones from Dollar Tree). Cover with multiple pieces of foil, seal tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To cook, defrost in your fridge overnight. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, adding time as needed. To bake from frozen, you will need to bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so towards the end. Please note that you should not put a frozen glass casserole dish into a hot oven as it could crack.
Did you grow up eating tuna casserole? What was in it?