How To Cut The Prep Time Of Your Next Tuna Casserole

Bringing a tuna casserole to a potluck or cooking up one for a simple and filling weeknight meal is not quite as old as time, but it's been a go-to since the 1930s. What makes it popular among many home cooks today is also what made it a staple at the dinner table in the 1950s -– the ease with which it can be made. According to Delighted Cooking, many mid-20th century recipes for tuna noodle casserole called for a handful of inexpensive and shelf-stable ingredients, including noodles, a can of tuna, canned vegetables, and a can of a creamy soup, such as cream of mushroom or cream of broccoli. 

In many ways, the 1950s was when convenience reigned supreme as the selection of canned and frozen foods increased. Like many recipes that have been made for decades, there are bound to be plenty of updates as certain ingredients are en vogue and others are no longer as popular. Tuna casserole is one such dish with updated ingredients like dill and Dijon mustard. A recipe for Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole from Ambitious Kitchen even calls for freshly grated Parmesan cheese, unsweetened almond milk, and baby bella mushrooms. 

In the end, it feels like as people have modernized tuna casserole, they may have also strayed from its original intent, which is for a quick, hearty meal.

Simple ingredient swap

With the intent of getting back to an easier-to-make casserole, make one simple ingredient swap: Pasta for packaged scalloped potatoes. According to The Spruce Eats, the alternative potatoes save a cook a lot of time in the kitchen making their tuna casserole. Other bonuses from using the potatoes are they create texture and add flavor by forming a crispy later on the bottom of the casserole.

If opting for boxed scalloped potatoes, prepare them with water, milk, and butter, as directed on the package. The recipe from The Spruce Eats also calls for sliced onion to be cooked with potatoes. After being cooked, other ingredients, like canned tuna, are added. When purchased packaged, scalloped potatoes generally contain cheese, such as from Betty Crocker, adding another flavor element to the casserole. According to the container's directions, the potatoes take about 25 minutes to become golden brown and tender. Cookist adds that by using sliced potatoes instead of pasta, the end result is elevated. There are some nutritional benefits to swapping potatoes for pasta, according to Foodstruct, which cites that potatoes have more potassium and calcium, as well as vitamin C and vitamin B6.

Next time you are in need of an easy yet satisfying meal, grab the boxed scalloped potatoes and canned tuna that your grandma would have appreciated.