A tuna noodle casserole needn’t be a bland, gloppy dish. In fact, among creamy comfort foods, it holds a special place in many Chowhounds’ hearts, and many make theirs entirely from scratch. Even those who use canned soup make flavor-enhanced versions.

Using tuna packed in oil (like in CHOW’s tuna noodle casserole recipe) is key to a good dish, hounds say. “The better the canned tuna, the better the casserole,” drongo says. Plano Rose‘s secret is not draining the oil from the tuna before adding it to the dish, and since today’s cans are smaller, she uses two per can of mushroom soup.

Whether you make your casserole from scratch or begin with a cream-soup base, adding flavorful ingredients transforms the dish from blah to delicious. LJS wouldn’t think of leaving out jarred pimientos, and says, “[F]resh red pepper, even sauteed, [does] not work nearly as well as the jarred.” A big spoonful of mayonnaise adds “a little tang,” EmmaFrances says. Others punch up the flavor with Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice.

In this from-scratch recipe with classic flavorsJoanN sometimes uses panko and Gruyère in place of the called-for breadcrumbs and cheddar, and geminigirl recommends using two cans of tuna instead of one.

drongo is partial to this Mediterranean tuna noodle casserole, but uses the drained oil from the tuna can to sauté the bell pepper and make the roux.

Discuss: The nectar of the Gods, tuna noodle casserole….

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