I was feeling particularly wintery this weekend and winter is a good time for casseroles. Cold, damp westcoast winters make me want to bundle up in my warmest, wooliest sweater, wrap myself in two more blankets, and eat piping hot foods until February.
I chose a recipe that’s almost a stereotype of mid-1960s casserole recipes. A can of soup, a can of tuna, a bunch of peas, and some crushed potato chips. Nothing fancy. No seasoning. (Unless, of course, you count the salt, salt, and more salt. That’s in everything).
Who needs even one fresh ingredient? Not you! This recipe just might be the binary opposite of kale and lentils. It’s from a simpler time when you could open the contents of three cans into an ovenproof dish, top it with broken chip crumbs, and call it a meal. (In fact, that sounds eerily similar to the simpler times of my early twenties!)
These recipes were made for speed. This is what you make when you can’t go to the store and you need to whip something together from whatever is in your cupboards, and put a hot meal on the table in under 30 minutes.
I suppose if you wanted to get fancy, you could use one of those wild mushroom soups, or the finest in name-brand canned goods. But I’m not a Rockefeller, so it was store brand everything for me.
I grew up eating a lot of casseroles. They were one of my mom’s favourite ways to dispose of leftovers. But I’d never had this particular casserole before, and I’d never had a casserole that contained potato chips before either. (Possibly the potato chip topping is a regional thing.) It wasn’t too bad! I mean, apart from the severe dehydration afterwards. It was hot and filling, and there weren’t any weirdly conflicting ingredients.
What kinds of casseroles did you grow up with, readers? Are there any that you feel nostalgic about? Are there any you still get nightmares about?
Tuna and Chips Casserole
2 cans (10½ oz. each) cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
2 cans (7 oz. each) tuna, drained and flaked
2½ cups crushed potato chips
2 cups (1 lb. can) cooked green peas, drained
Heat oven to 350°F (mod.). Empty soup into 2-qt. baking dish. Add milk and mix well. Add tuna, 2 cups potato chips, and peas; mix lightly. Sprinkle remaining potato chips over top. Bake 25 min., until heated through. 6 to 8 servings.
The recipe featured in this post is from Betty Crocker’s New Dinner for Two Cook Book, published in 1964.
Persephoneers: Do you have an unusual holiday recipe you’d like me to try out? I’m always on the lookout for new (or old) recipes! If you have a recipe you’d like to see tested, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.