Friends, let’s be honest.
There is nothing, NOTHING, like a casserole. It’s comfort food at its finest. On a cold, dreary, winter day, your mood can be instantly elevated by the magical healing properties of a casserole. Nom.
And this tuna casserole is the ultimate rich, creamy concoction that you need. Right now. In your belly.
The problem with traditional casseroles is that they often come from a can. Cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup… these are all used as the base for your average casserole. Not this bad boy! It’s made with 100% real, whole, unprocessed ingredients. And while it isn’t the most healthful meal in the world, I did make a few modifications to lighten it up a bit:
- I used 1/2 the amount of butter for which a similar casserole calls
- I replaced half of the milk with chicken stock. Veggie stock can be used as well.
- I used whole wheat pasta instead of traditional egg noodles
Whenever I eat something on the heavier side like this, I always like to pair it with a side salad (or something green). That way, I ensure I’m getting a good dose of veggies with my meal, and I also don’t eat as large of a portion. I almost never deprive myself of food I want to eat. But, I do take steps to make sure I don’t eat too much of the “bad” stuff.
Not Zach. He went back for seconds and thirds. That’s how tasty this was. But, he’s a runner. And I am definitely NOT a runner :-)
We barely had any leftovers! Normally, this would bum me out, but because this meal is freezable, I divided this recipe into two Pyrex baking dishes with lids (the best, BEST products for making meals ahead of time and freezing) and froze one! Now, the challenge lies in waiting until an appropriate amount of time has passed before eating the frozen one. So… tomorrow? :-)
Recipe below. If you plan on making two and freezing one, you may need to double the recipe. This batch is fine as two complete meals for just me and Zach, but if you have a larger family, they will likely gobble this up quickly.
Tuna Casserole (the no can, from scratch, real food version!)
- 8 oz. whole wheat pasta I used rotini
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 10 oz. mushrooms diced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cans tuna drained
- 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs*
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a casserole dish with butter (one large or two small dishes). Set aside.
- Cook pasta in salted water according to directions.
- Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or pot.
- Add the onions and celery; saute until tender.
- Add the garlic; saute until fragrant.
- Stir in the mushrooms, then allow to sit untouched until most of the liquid has evaporated (approximately 5 minutes).
- Add the flour, stir to coat, and gradually add the milk and broth. Heat over medium-high heat until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta, peas, and tuna to the mixture.
- Place mixture into prepared casserole dish(es).
- In a small bowl, melt remaining tablespoon butter. Mix with breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs on casserole. Top with shredded cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.