Betty Draper's Favorite Tuna Noodle Casserole

Friday, September 29, 2017

Again with the Mad Men posts!

So we have been watching a LOT of Mad Men.  I'm currently on the hunt for 1960s cookware and Christmas decorations, so if you have any leads let me know...  Anyway, I'm all about the 60s right now and the food during that time was really revolutionary.  A married woman would most likely be at home during the day, cooking, caring for the children and taking care of household chores.  We all know that is a full time job anyway, so even though Mrs. Draper was home all day, she was exceptionally busy.  Dinner time was getting easier than ever, with a lot of prepackaged foods coming to the supermarket shelves, and cookbooks focusing on time saving recipes.  Women were using canned soups instead of homemade broths and crackers and potato chips instead of breadcrumbs.  Foods were inspired by NASA and space exploration, and suddenly instant foods became trendy.  Casseroles were just as popular in the 60s as they were in the 50's and French food was en vogue thanks to Julia Child and Jackie Kennedy (who was a known Francophile).

Casseroles are easy and fast and keep well for leftovers.  If you watch scenes in the first couple season of Mad Men, you'll notice that Don frequently comes home late (you old dog....) and Betty will reheat him something quickly (there's one scene where she simply takes cold chicken salad out of the fridge and he eats it with Ritz crackers....this recipe will be coming soon as well!).  If you're just a couple of shacked up kids like Alex and I, casseroles can last an entire week.

One of my favorite casserole dishes growing up was tuna noodle.  I've had tuna casserole with potatoes as well, but there's a kind of childlike charm about tuna noodle.  It's surprisingly simple to create vegan versions of retro foods, as the goal in the 1960's was to keep things fast and simple, and there are no complicated sauces or meats to try and substitute.  There are vegan versions of everything now at stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods, and we all know to sub soy milk for regular milk, vegan butter for dairy butter, and so on.  Vegenaise will be your best friend in your foray into 60s cuisine, so stock up.  All kinds of cold meat and pasta salads were made during this time with mayo and lucky for us in 2017, you can get a vegan sub at your local supermarket.  Vegan tuna might be a bit harder to find (I get mine at whole foods, and it's great), but if you can't find it go ahead and sub the hearts of palm that I made for the lobster rolls!

What you'll need:

2 cans vegan tuna
1 package pasta (I used fusilli because it's adorable)
1 shallot, chopped
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 cups mushroom broth
2 cups Follow Your Heart brand vegan cheese
2 cups french friend onions
frozen peas and carrots (about half a "bag")
vegan butter
1 cup soy milk, unsweetened

flour to thicken sauce
garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to boil in large pot, add pasta.  Cook until al dente, drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425.

Melt butter in a pan, and sauté your shallots until transparent.  Add in the mushrooms and peas and carrots.  Add salt and pepper and garlic salt and sauté until mushrooms are tender.  Add soy milk and mushroom broth and simmer until veggies are cooked through.  Add in the "tuna" last, as it does not need to cook necessarily, just heat through.  Whisk in flour slowly to thicken sauce, and once its gravy-consistency remove from heat.

Add pasta to casserole dish and mix in sauce.  Mix in cheese and top with fried onions (you can use potato chips or Ritz crackers for a more retro meal).  Pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (only until the onions brown and the sauce is bubbling).  Let cool a bit, and serve.

Reheat leftovers in the oven for crispiness.

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