There are some times when making a retro recipe gets to be a little tiresome. Not the food, actually, but the writeup.
Cream of something soup. Tuna fish. Pimiento. Processed cheese. Recombined in dozens of ways, by different food companies… with oddly similar results each time.
But then I realized I have learned quite a lot over the years of doing this. And since I got into this project to be a better cook, I was quite proud to consider all those lessons and how they’ve benefitted me.
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 10-1/2-oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. chopped onion
1 tbsp. chopped pimiento
2 tbsps. chopped green pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 lb. processed sharp cheese (grated or cubed)
1 No. 1/2 can Star-Kist Tuna
Cook macaroni according to directions on package. Set aside. Combine soup, milk, chopped onion, pimiento, green pepper and black pepper. Place over low heat, add grated cheese and stir occasionally, until cheese is melted. Mix macaroni and Star-Kist Tuna in 1-1/2-qt. casserole. Blend in cheese sauce. Bake in moderate oven (325 F.) about 20-min. Serves 6.
I have learned that it’s worth my time and money to invest in higher quality versions of the traditional ingredients. Cream of mushroom soup using portobello is better than the cheapest store brand available.
I’ve learned how to make cream of something soup from scratch (a quality roux is one of my favorite fundamental skills), but also learned that it is simpler to open a can. (OK, maybe I didn’t learn that so much as repeatedly proved the fact.)
I’ve learned that cheddar cheese is far superior to American cheese, especially when a recipe calls for shredded cheese.
I’ve also learned that canned fish other than tuna comes with all sorts of surprising fish parts (especially spines), and I’ve learned that I really, really don’t like spines in my food.
I’ve learned that wonderful things can happen from mixing unlikely ingredients, and trusting a new recipe is exciting and makes the cooking process an adventure instead of a necessity.
I’ve learned that food can be actually pretty. Like this!
And I’ve learned that I can actually really like tuna casserole.
The assortment of vegetables mixed into this casserole made it more interesting than the tuna casserole I grew up with. And even though I wouldn’t expect cheddar and tuna to be a thing, it really worked well here. The kids even cheerfully ignored the mushrooms (their least favorite ingredient) and admitted this was “not terrible” as they went back for second helpings.
I really like learning from history like this, even if it’s just for my own kitchen. Plus I get to have tasty food… or the occasional great story for parties.
This learning experience disguised as a casserole recipe was posted in the Flickr photostream of thenoirkitten.