Growing up in southern Kansas, we called the one-dish meals “casseroles”; I understand that in some parts of the country, they are called “hot dishes”. Whatever you call them, they probably got started as a way to stretch the food dollar by combining a little bit of protein with a whole lot of what we used to call “starch”, or carbohydrate. This starch was usually in the form of what we used to call noodles, now known as pasta. Sometimes, rice was the stretcher. To tell the truth, these casseroles all kind of ended up looking alike: a gummy mass of noodles that was pretty salty. My mom went to her grave never knowing that I hated tuna casserole, for instance. It had four ingredients: macaroni, tuna, cream of mushroom soup and sometimes peas. Or cheese. Fat city, here I come! I knew that there had to be a better way, and I’m sure that I was not the first one to turn to the Italian method for inspiration. This was the result: something I call Tuna, Pasta, Tomatoes and Olives. or Not Tuna Casserole.
- One bag of whole wheat, spiral macaroni (I think it’s about a pound)
- One large can of diced tomatoes
- One onion
- One green pepper
- One can of pitted black olives
- Some olive oil
- Some balsamic vinegar
- Some basil and garlic
- one can of tuna, preferably the solid white kind.
Cook and drain the pasta. Chop the onion and pepper. Slice the olives. Drain the tomatoes, but drink the juice — it’s yummy and good for you.Mix together about 1/3 c. of olive oil, the same of the vinegar, and season with basil and garlic until you are satisfied with the flavor. You can serve this hot or cold. Some crusty bread is good with it.