Welcome to the 2nd installment of the Oma series, Oma’s Tuna Casserole. As you may remember from my post Oma’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast, Oma is my German mother-in-law. She raised three healthy boys from infancy to adulthood feeding them hearty American classics.
At the age of 28, Oma moved to the US from Berlin with her American husband. At that time, she could speak very little English. In 1967, the German Embassy in DC offered English classes with a side of American Cooking 101. Within two months, Oma could speak conversational English and prepare a variety of American dishes.
Oma’s cooking may not be fancy, but there is no denying its always satisfying and delicious. Need some comfort food? You’ve come to the right place.
Oma’s Cheesy Tuna Casserole
Makes approximately 5-6 servings
- 6 cups elbow macaroni cooked to “al dente”
- 2 cans (10 3/4 ounce) condensed cream of celery soup
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 small stalks of celery, diced
- 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded & divided
- 3 (5 ounce) cans of tuna in water, drained and broken into pieces
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- Salt & Pepper to taste (not pictured)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cook your noodles in hot boiling salty water to al dente.
Pour two cans of cream of celery soup in a medium-size sauce pan over medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of milk into each can and swirl it around to get what you missed and then pour that into the pot.
Bring to a low simmer. Add the chopped onions and celery.
My Question: “Why don’t you cook the onions or celery before you add them?”
Oma: “Because the whole casserole goes into the oven for 30 minutes and then the celery and onion cooks. But you want the celery and onion to still be a little crisp when it is done.”
OK. Moving on.
Cook the sauce until the milk and cream of celery soup are nicely mixed and bubble a little bit (about 5 minutes), then turn off right away. Stir in 1 1/4 cups (approximately 5 ounces) of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. This is “the sauce”.
Put 6 cups of cooked macaroni noodles in the bottom of a casserole pan. Spread with the tuna. Then dot with 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
Pour “the sauce” over that and mix it all up.
Spread with the remaining cheese on top of the noodles.
Bake uncovered until it bubbles and the cheese is melted on top, approximately 30 minutes. Oma: “If it doesn’t quite bubble, then you just use 5 more minutes…It’s not really such a big deal.”
TASTING NOTES: This warm and creamy dish has macaroni and cheese overtones and warms you from the inside out. I seasoned mine with a little salt and pepper. I’ll admit to having seconds. Thirds? Don’t judge me.