To celebrate Yankee‘s 80th anniversary in 2015, The Yankee Seeker will spend the year cooking and baking from the vast and colorful Yankee Magazine recipe archives. Will the retro results hold up to today’s tastes? We can’t wait to find out! As an inaugural theme for “Yankee Seeker Meets Yankee Archives,” I chose “comfort food” […]
To celebrate Yankee‘s 80th anniversary in 2015, The Yankee Seeker will spend the year cooking and baking from the vast and colorful Yankee Magazine recipe archives. Will the retro results hold up to today’s tastes? We can’t wait to find out!
As an inaugural theme for “Yankee Seeker Meets Yankee Archives,” I chose “comfort food” to help guide the search for just the right recipe. Why? With the holidays over and old man winter officially taking up residence for a few long months, I needed some comforting, and nothing beats a casserole in the cozy department. My search led me to 1967, when Yankee ran a recipe for a tuna noodle casserole (official name “Tuna Tango”) that proved too tempting to resist because 1) I’m a sucker for recipes with silly names (“It takes tuna tango” my boyfriend said…repeatedly), and 2) it called for tomato sauce rather than the ever-present can of condensed soup, which took care of my number one casserole hurdle.
In that same fat digest-sized summer issue, Tuna Tango ran alongside pieces on Andre the Seal, the last great ship model builders, and a re-telling of the August 1826 White Mountains landslide that killed the Willey family (nine lives in all), but spared their Crawford Notch home. The price? 35 cents.
Back in 1967, the small food section in Yankee (called “My Favorite Recipe”) was made up entirely of user-submitted dishes with anecdotal instructions from the cooks themselves. Here’s how Mrs. L.C. Ramsey from Albany, NY, described her casserole submission: “I find this tuna fish casserole very tasty – ‘tangy,’ my children say, and so named by them ‘Tuna Tango’ – and quite convenient to prepare as nearly every ingredient is a staple!” And if you’re someone that regularly has cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream in the fridge – she’s right.
My initial thoughts on this dish were that it looked easy, called for “real” ingredients, and the amounts of dairy (the cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream) were small enough that the result wouldn’t be overly rich. For swaps, I used a whole 12-ounce can of tuna rather than fiddling to get the requested 10 ounces, and since I didn’t have any pimento on hand, I substituted a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
After a quick 35 minutes in the oven, it was time for a taste. Would Tuna Tango be a delight or a dud? I’m happy to report that this tangy tuna noodle casserole was a resounding delight. The recipe is simple, thrifty, and even re-heats well. I admit that, having grown up with only the sandwich kind of tuna, I had some serious doubts about this one, but the first bite yielded a pleasant and flavorful (tangy, even) surprise. The crunchy Panko crumb topping was also good, and the red pepper flakes gave the dish a nice little kick that I really liked. Tuna Tango, you’re alright.
Are you a tuna noodle casserole fan? Have you ever had it with a tomato base? Where does it rank on your list of top comfort foods?
In the next “Yankee Seeker Meets Yankee Archives” we’ll be tackling a special soup, so stay tuned!