Plowing through driving snow, sleet and slush is no incentive to trot out to the fresh produce stand for supper. If you didn’t have time to plan ahead of the ferocious winter storm that is besieging much of the country, you may be depending on a few scant ingredients for food. A warming pantry casserole can serve you well for the next couple of days.
Do you keep a supply of dry pasta and canned tuna on hand? Do you never run out of canned peas or beans? Are there cream of mushroom or chicken soup cans stashed away? Stretching the concept just a little: are there jars of mayonnaise or containers of sour cream or cottage cheese lined up next to the cheese in the fridge? If so, you are covered for the next few meals.
The foundation of any pantry casserole is pasta, tuna, vegetable and a moistening agent. Vary the concept by using canned chicken for tuna or rice for pasta, and you’ve multiplied your options tremendously.
Clearing out the refrigerator for tidbits of baby spinach that are about to go bad or leftovers from last night’s rotisserie chicken works as well. If you are a maniac for fresh veggies, you have a pantry/refrigerator casserole waiting. A ton of Internet recipes cry out for your personalized touches. Throwing in chia seeds or nuts and sneaking in roasted broccoli makes your desperation casserole healthier.
I tested out this Epicurious recipe for Tuna Tomato Casserole using dry linguine, canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes and cream cheese substituted for cheddar cheese. Tomatoes make the dish lighter than your grandmother’s tuna casserole. The final product was a bit dry for my taste, and next time I’ll reduce the amount of pasta or increase the moistening agent by adding sour cream or creamed soup. The substitutions worked fine, and the meal was elegant in its simplicity.
Tuna Tomato Casserole
- 2 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces uncooked wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
- 8-10 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese (1 cup)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine in a bowl, the tuna, mayonnaise, onion, salt and pepper. After draining cooked noodles, return them to their pan. Add the tuna mixture and mix to blend well. Layer 1/2 of the noodle mixture in a 9×13-inch baking pan. Top with 1/2 of tomatoes and 1/2 of cheese. Press down lightly; repeat layers. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes or until bubbly.