When I was a little girl, I adored something called Tuna Wiggle. (I think it could also be called Tuna Noodle Casserole, but I had my trusty little Klutz cookbook, and they called it Tuna Wiggle. So…Tuna Wiggle it is.)
Tuna Wiggle was one of the first things I learned to cook. It usually came in the form of Creamed Tuna on Toast. This was even easier to make, and the recipe went something like this: In a medium saucepan, combine one can cream of mushroom soup, one drained can of tuna, one 1 lb. bag of frozen peas. Add a little milk if it’s too thick. Serve it on toast, and eat with a knife and fork.
As tasty as that was, when I was craving something creamy and warm and tuna-ish the other day, I knew I could do better. (Besides, I had not one can of cream of anything in the pantry.)
And I think I’ve done it. It starts with a basic white sauce, using the recipe that my father taught me. He, in turn, learned it from his grandmother. Add to that a can of your favorite tuna, as many frozen peas as you like, and a few generous handfuls of cheese, and you have a delicious and grown-up version of a childhood favorite!
We served this over rice because I’d been craving some creamy, cheesy casserole-type rice, but it would be equally delicious over noodles, toast or quinoa!
(Ok, so nothing’s different from the original recipe except that I used a homemade cheese sauce instead of the canned cream of mushroom soup. Still, it’s something that I don’t keep in the pantry anymore. If you do…well, then, follow the recipe above.)
Creamed Tuna with Peas
2 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 cup milk
2 cups grated cheese
1 pound frozen peas
1 can tuna, drained
salt and pepper, to taste
In a skillet, melt your butter. When it is good and melted, add your flour and stir it up. Cook this for 2-3 minutes to make sure your finished product doesn’t have a Raw Flour Taste. (Not good, my friends!) Pull out your milk jug and add milk, a little at a time, whisking as you go to make sure you don’t get any lumps. Continue to stir in milk, whisking like mad, until you get the consistency that you want. (2 cups is really an approximation. I usually just pull out the jug, and keep adding milk until it looks right.) As the sauce continues to cook, it will thicken, so this whole process will take a few minutes.
Once your sauce is to the consistency that you like, it’s time to add your peas and tuna. When the peas are cooked through, then it is time to add the cheese. Make sure it doesn’t boil after this point, because the sauce will revolt and leave you with…something not great. (I’m not sure what will happen. This fact was so drilled into me as a child, I’ve never let it boil! I think the cheese will cook and fall apart, leaving chunky, oily sauce.) Season with salt and pepper, and you’re golden!
Serve over rice, noodles, quinoa, boiled wheat or anything else that would benefit from a creamy, lovely sauce!