Deviled String Beans And Tuna – Tom’s Tuna Favorite

Posted on Aug 24 2011 - 5:56am by RetroRuth

This is the reason that Tom and I make crazy vintage recipes. Because everyone once in a while, a horrible, disgusting-looking recipe will be made. And it will turn out well.

Like this one: Deviled String Beans and Tuna, which was submitted by Amy. Congratulations, Amy on sending in Tom’s favorite!

Ahhh…American Home Kitchens. You never let us down!

Amy writes:

I’ve attached a recipe for Deviled String Beans and Tuna from the September 1958 issue of The American Home.

Thank you!

Okay, okay. I know what you are thinking. “How is that disgusting pile of gray-black entrails even edible, let alone something that Tom enjoyed eating??” Well, thanks to Tom’s iron stomach, and the magic of color-photography, I am able to tame this scary thing and make it – dare I even say it? – delicious.

Well, maybe not delicious.

But good. I can make it good.



It occurred to me as I set out the ingredients (as I am sure it has already occurred to most of you) that this is basically green bean casserole, minus mushrooms and plus tuna and horseradish. Which wasn’t good news for me, since I detest green been casserole…in fact, I detest canned green beans in any form. But Tom was excited. For some reason, whenever we make something I really hate, he gets all excited.

Go figure.


But, I soldiered on, even thought I was convinced I would hate this. That is how dedicated I am. How far above reproach.

How completely crazy.



Maybe color photography isn’t the best thing for this dish.


I remembered cackling with glee at this point.

“Look at how disgusting this looks! Everyone is going to hate this!”

Which I guess means that I get excited when something we make is really going to gross you guys out.

Go figure.


But it ended up redeeming itself slightly. Maybe it was the casserole dish, or our camera lens, or maybe it was the two-inch-thick layer of fried onions covering up the casseroles interior.

Either way, it was presentable again.


And crispy. Very, very crispy.


Just keep thinking, “Green bean casserole. Green bean casserole.”

I have no idea what Tom was thinking by this point. It didn’t smell the greatest.


IMG_5631 IMG_5636

Down the hatch.




Slightly concerned.


Back to deciding.


“It’s good. It tastes like spicy green bean casserole.”

But I didn’t believe him.  It was the moment I had been dreading. I scooped up a forkful, and brought it slowly to my curled-back lips. Would it be good, like Tom said, or was he lying to get me back for all of the times I had served him a gag-inducing mid-century meal? I wouldn’t put it past him.

I popped the fork in my mouth, ready to bolt for the sink. Then I started chewing. And was surprised when I kept chewing. I was even more surprised when I went back for another bite.

Holy crap, it WAS good!

“See,” Tom said, smugly. “I told you it was good. In fact, I think I am picking this one for my favorite.”

The Verdict: Good! Surprisingly! What I normally dislike about green bean casserole, it’s blandness and canned bean taste, was kicked out the door by the tablespoon of horseradish. After baking the heat the of horseradish mellowed out to be a nice compliment to the fried onions. You could barely taste the tuna or the egg, what hit you most was the spicy and creamy white sauce. In fact, the only reason that this dish did not nudge Disneyland Tuna Burgers out of the “Best” Slot was because it was rich. Really rich. So rich you didn’t want to go back for seconds. But, since that is my only complaint, I am totally happy with this one, and think it deserves the title as “Tom’s Favorite Tuna Recipe”!

Well, guys, that’s it for our contest! Thanks to everyone who entered and everyone who came back again and again to read the tasting of the horrible recipes!  And for those of you who are sad to see the tuna-fun end, don’t worry. I have a few tuna jewels from our taste-testing still to come, so if you haven’t seen your recipe yet, don’t fret! It’s on the way!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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5 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Sharon August 24, 2011 at 7:23 am - Reply

    I’m truly shocked that a mid-century recipe of any kind included such a zingy ingredient as horseradish. That’s incredibly impressive!

    This was a fun contest for sure. I’ve never seen so many tuna atrocities in my whole life … and I have a lot of vintage cookbooks! 🙂

    • RetroRuth August 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Isn’t that crazy, Sharon?? The craziest thing is that this is my SECOND vintage recipe that included a ton of horseradish, and the first one was good, too!

      Glad you liked all the tuna terror. I was pretty impressed with the recipes as well! Everyone went above and beyond for this one!

  2. Amy August 24, 2011 at 11:50 am - Reply

    I am uncommonly happy that Tom picked the recipe I submitted as his favorite!

    I have a lot of vintage cookbooks and magazines, and I was a little disappointed that this was the most interesting one I came across. Especially since it is essentially green bean casserole (with a kick).

    I’m so glad I got a photo play-by-play (taste-by-taste?) out of it. I love those midcentury recipe induced gags and grimaces. 🙂

    • RetroRuth August 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Glad you are happy, Amy! We are happy you entered the contest and that you liked all the pictures of the tastings! Email me your address ( and I will send you your prize!

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