Yesterday was a wild spring day in San Francisco! When I woke up the windows were rattling, as sash windows do when it’s over 35 MPH, and the sky was looking decidedly dark. It was 45 F out, which is pretty cold here, and they said rain was coming so I put on lots of layers and my waterproof parka and headed to work. On the bus almost to Market Street I heard strange noises and realized it was rain and sleet! People were scattering on the street for doorways like leaves in a strong wind. I have a 15 minute walk from the bus stop and so I zipped up tightly and headed off the bus, so grateful I was wearing my extra warm and fluffy Russian mohair shawl under all parka as it was verging on hail.
It was too windy for most of the walk to use the umbrella but the hooded parka was a blessing, for my upper half! I had soggy pants and shoes for the morning, alleviated by hot tea. It did clear up to be sunny but icy cold and as the day wore on I really wanted to go home and make comfort food. I stopped at the FiDi Target and got some milk, broccoli, and fresh spinach, and a bottle of white wine. On the way home I hit upon the idea of the ultimate comfort food, tuna noodle casserole, but I would add veggies, because I don’t eat enough of them, much to my shame, it’s hard to shop when we have bad weather and one is on a budget.
Years ago my friend Pat shared her recipe on our recipe swap, and it was just like what my mom used to make. I had it bookmarked on my cell phone so I texted my sister while I was on the bus. What a fun exchange we had, remembering these great dishes when we were so very poor, and being forced to do the dreadful task of “just making a salad”. My sis suggested putting breadcrumbs with Parmesan on top. I recalled that I had a little bit of buttery tasting club crackers in the breadbox, and we agreed that would work well. She liked the vegetable addition idea and that reminded me of the necessity for peas, which happily I had in the freezer. I also found a packet of fancy orecchiette pasta from Trader Joes, plus a can of their very fancy tuna.
I chopped the broccoli up a bit finer and sauteed the florets in butter, then added the damp, rinsed spinach, and a splash of the Pinot Gris. Once they were done, I added the peas, the milk, and the canned soup – this is how mom made it and nostalgia demanded I not deviate, although I could have easily rehydrated some mushrooms and made a bechamel. Sometimes comfort food’s appeal is that it is fast and easy, and I am fond of the cream of mushroom soup ubiquitous from my childhood. I bashed up the club crackers and some good grated Parmesan using the wine bottle and a small ziplock bag and they were sprinkled on over the sauced orecchiette pasta.
While the casserole baked I watched Mind of Chef and amused myself by the comparison of David Kinch’s exquisite cuisine compared to my humble tuna primavera casserole. I also knitted myself a mini cat in Kuma colors, which just made me grin so much, I even stuffed him so that he’s a bit plump like his namesake.
The timer rang and the tuna primavera casserole was done! I scooped up a bowlful, poured some wine, and had a relaxing evening with Kuma at my side, coziness and comfort food moment achieved.