When my kids were little, they loved to eat my tuna noodle casserole. It was a typical American mish-mash of, umm, tuna and noodles, held together with a can of cream of mushroom soup. If I was feeling daring and bold, I might toss in some frozen peas.
This was not gourmet cooking. But it was the best stuff on earth to a table full of toddlers, and warmed their tummies during the cool, grey months of the year.They would have gladly eaten it daily, and I didn't mind baking it in bathtub-size batches.
But during the brief, golden days of Seattle summer, when all our regular routines were shattered in order to celebrate the glory of warmth and sunshine, I found myself craving a change. Something had to give in the tuna-noodley order of my universe, and thus in this cradle of necessity was a new culinary babe borne unto me.
Cold tuna noodle.
Oh, I know. The name makes it sound like I just whipped up yet another round of the usual hot dish, and left it in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
Not true. This cold pasta salad is a whole 'nother thing, and at my house, it's become synonymous with warm summer days, camping trips, and garden parties. Like most of my invented recipes, all measurements are approximate. Tender loving care counts for much more than exact proportions.
1 box pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
2 small cans or 1 large can tuna
1/2 to 1 C frozen peas, thawed
1 to 2 C grated cheddar cheese
1/2 to 1 C mayo or Miracle Whip
1/2 to 1 C milk
1. In a large bowl with a lid, mix together the first four ingredients, adjusting quantities to taste.
2. Whisk the dressing and the milk; stir into the pasta mixture.
3. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Before serving, add more dressing and milk, if necessary.
Pretty basic, yeah? Sure, there's lots of room for experimenting with fresh herbs, secret spices, or extra garnishes. But as every mother knows, that nonsense doesn't fly with toddlers, so I've always approached this dish from a purist mentality.
Maybe someday my cold tuna noodle will grow up to become an adult dish. But for now, my daughters prefer that I keep this dish true to its toddler roots, and we all enjoy the tasty summer memories.
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