My mother used to make this almost every sunday. It was a tradition, one of only one we had. Around noon, maybe a little earlier, Mom would pull out a large bowl. A huge bowl, it seemed to me, in which she would put together a wonderful concoction.
Into the bowl would go a can of tuna (in oil), salt and pepper, ground oregano, and several large spoonfuls of Miracle Whip. On the stove, two boxes of elbow macaroni have been boiling in water for the 10-12 minutes it would take to get to the right consistency. A touch beyond al dente.
A bit of an aside here... tuna used to come packed in fish oil. But the Powers That Be thought, at some point, that this was bad for you. So they forced a change to "spring water" and "vegetable oil", neither of which is nearly so tasty. Fish oil, they have since found, is actually good for you (think Omega-3) but they have not returned to the old practice.
The macaroni would be dumped in the spaghetti strainer (colander) which sat waiting in the sink. Cold water would be run, the macaroni noodles would be blanched so they would be cool and ready.
The macaroni would then be dumped into the large bowl with the tuna and Miracle Whip and the stirring and mixing would begin. Sometimes, she would dice some celery to toss in, and maybe cube some tomato too. She'd also dice some onion but this would go in a small dessert dish for use by those who liked onion. That was a favor to me, who didn't.
Once the concoction was thoroughly mixed, she'd bring it to the table and we'd all come and grab a dish. After we had all eaten, there was always a half bowl left. Mom would sit there, reading the Sunday paper, and dipping her fork into the bowl... eating one noodle,or very small forkfuls, at a time. She wouldn't get up until the bowl was empty.
It was the most delicious meal I ate in those days. A dish that took no great culinary skills at all but which never failed to tickle the taste buds.
When I was in the Navy (and after I got out) and had an apartment, I would rely on that dish to to get me through the week without exhausting my food budget. If you cover the bowl (or better, use a Tupperware type bowl with a "burpable" lid), the dish will keep for three days. All you have to do is stir in a soup spoonful or two of Miracle Whip to refresh it before serving.
I still make the dish from time to time. I have added diced Dill pickle and changed the pepper to lemon (and sometimes lime) pepper to the recipe. I also throw in some grated cheese (usually sharp cheddar) and diced celery (if I have some) for extra flavor. You can also add chopped hard boiled egg (sans shell, of course) and just about anything. Diced red and/or green pepper. Switch from tuna to grilled chicken. Or salmon, if you prefer. Use penne or spiral or any kind of pasta in place of the elbow macaroni (though I would advise against orzo, linguine, spaghetti, or lasagna noodles.
Each time I make it, I can see Mom sitting at the table, poring over the paper, dipping her fork into the bowl. And all is right with the world.
It never lasts more than a day anymore.
Drat! I'm out of tuna!
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago