Sunday, May 23, 2010

Harry Truman "Meatless Monday" Tuna Casserole

On October 5, 1947, Harry Truman made the first televised presidential address from the White House. In it, he asked Americans to reduce their use of grain in order to help feed starving people overseas.

At the time of his “Food Conservation Speech,” Europe was still recovering from the devastation of World War II and suffering from widespread famine. Truman asked farmers to reduce their use of grain and asked the public to avoid meat on Mondays, eggs and poultry on Thursdays, and to "save a slice of bread each day."

Within days, restaurants all over the country had pledged their support while the New York Times invited readers to write in for a free pamphlet of meatless recipes, including a “canned salmon bake topped with crushed potato chips.” Truman, for his part, lunched on a “symbolic cheese soufflĂ©.”

Tuna Noodle Casserole was another popular "Meatless Monday" dish. If you'd like to whip up a batch, here is a quick and easy, no-nonsense recipe that has been adapted from Bess Truman’s handwritten recipe which is on file at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri.

12 ounces elbow macaroni
1 can white albacore tuna, drained
1 can cream of celery soup
1/3 cup milk
¾ cup cheddar cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2 ½ to 3-quart casserole dish.

In a medium saucepan, cook the noodles until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove and drain well. In a medium bowl, combine the noodles, tuna, soup, and milk. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix together bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl, then sprinkle bread crumb mixture and cheese over the top. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are slightly browned. Serve warm and enjoy!

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