Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

My mom didn’t do a lot of casseroles growing up but she did make a mean mac and cheese and a tuna noodle casserole. I just loved the tuna. Unfortunately along the way, casseroles became synonymous with canned cream of mushroom soup. I for one, am ready to change that. This is the original “all in one pot” dish. Especially on a cold fall night, it sure feels good to dig into a bowl of creamy cheesy deliciousness that’s also full of lean protein and veggies.

Just now I asked Leo to come sample one of the bowls I pulled out for the picture. He is by far my toughest eater. Not only did he love the bite I offered him but he kept sneaking bites behind my back before I told him there was no need to sneak and he could have as much as he wanted. I’d say that’s a dinnertime win if there ever was one.

There’s lots of room to customize. I used basic white pasta but I will try this with Banza next time (that chickpea pasta? I love it). Whole wheat pasta would work well too. You can sub olive oil for the butter (just keep the amount the same), try whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, and use any fat milk. There was a time in my life I would have said, “you have to use olive oil instead of butter and whole wheat flour instead of white” but I would like to think I’ve changed with the times. Butter is back, but ideally use grass fed. And the scant amount of fiber that you’d get from the 3 tbsp. of whole wheat flour here isn’t substantial enough to trade the thickening ability of white flour. Anyway – this came together quickly and was a big hit with the kids (Rich was out, hence all the gluten). We each ate a ramekin-full and I spooned the leftovers into more ramekins, covered them with plastic and frozen them. Perfect for nights when Rich is out.

LIGHT Tuna Noodle Cass

8 oz. Pasta – ideally shells, any type (half a box)

2 tbsp. butter

2 stalks celery, diced

1 onion (white or yellow), diced

3 tbsp. all purpose flour

2 c. milk

1 tsp. dijon mustard

2 carrots, peeled and diced

12 oz. light or white tuna, packed in water, drained

1 c. frozen peas

1 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 c. Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

1/4 c. Panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Bring a medium pot filled with two quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tsp. salt. Add pasta and cook according to package. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, heat butter in large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and celery and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Meanwhile, place carrots in a bowl with 2 tbsp. water. Microwave for 3 minutes. Drain if necessary. Add tuna to bowl with carrots.

5. Add flour to onion/celery and stir quickly.

6. Add milk, 1/4 c. at a time, stirring frequently if not constantly. Gradually add more milk as the mixture thickens, until it’s all incorporated and mixture is thick.

7. Stir in Dijon mustard.

8. Stir in pasta, carrots, tuna and peas.

9. Remove from heat, stir in dill and salt.

11. Pour mixture into an 8×8 baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Broil shortly if desired for more brownness.

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