Tuna noodle casserole, an American classic made with egg noodles, canned tuna, mushrooms, and peas all tossed in a creamy sauce that gets topped with cheese and breadcrumbs then baked to golden perfection!
Though delicious, this casserole tends to be loaded with unhealthy fats and carbs when in all reality this dish actually has the potential to be healthy! How might you ask? If you take a look at the key ingredients that make up this dish then you will see how balanced this dish can be! It is packed with high-protein tuna, mixed with filling carbs (keeping in mind your serving size) and complimented by fats.
Having a solid foundation to start with, I decided I would put myself to the challenge and create my version of a lighter, healthier tuna noodle casserole.
Creating healthier versions of classic dishes is always a challenge. There is something comforting and familiar to American classics and switching out the ingredients for healthier, lighter ones could be a recipe for disaster, literally. Knowing that, I had to think long and hard on I would use as the substitute ingredients; ones that were very similar to a traditional tuna noodle casserole’s main ingredients so I would not compromise its creamy consistency and delicious breadcrumb topping. Ingredients like the peas, mushrooms, and tuna did not need to be replaced, so revamping the creamy sauce was my main focus! Off to the drawing boards…
One look in my fridge and I was onto something. Low and behold my trusty 0% Greek yogurt was staring me in the face.
This is a food product I love to use as a replacement for a “creamy” ingredients because of its high protein content, 0g of fat and its…can you guess? Creaminess! This time was no different and Greek yogurt seemed to be a great start for creating a creamy sauce. The rest began to fall into place as I scoured my pantry for ingredients!
Nutritional yeast was a key ingredient in making this dish resemble the real deal. If you have never tried or even heard of nutritional yeast, then you are in for a real treat! Its texture and appearance are nothing like cheese (it’s actually comparable to fish food), but its flavor profile is nutty, cheesy and salty; just the thing we need to make this sauce! Because nutritional yeast is dairy free, many vegans and nondairy eaters use it to replace the taste of cheese in a dish. Using nutritional yeast also helps replace all those unwanted grams of fat & calories without comprising the flavor!
You better believe I was not taking those veggies out of the mix; not only for keeping their health benefits but can you imagine finding substitute ingredients for peas and mushrooms? Now that would be a challenge!
After fiddling, mixing and creating for a while, I was excited to try my creation! I must admit, this dish turned out fantastic! Aside from swapping the traditional, unhealthy ingredients to one’s much lighter and nutritious, the flavor and consistency between these two casseroles were very similar! Give this revamped tuna noodle casserole a try and feel good about what you are serving and eating!
Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole
A healthy twist on the traditional tuna noodle casserole. Canned tuna, noodles, peas and mushrooms in a (healthy) creamy sauce with topped a delicious bread crumb topping. Feel good about eating this casserole!
Serving size: 6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
6 oz Egg Noodles (Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Rotini, for gluten free)
.5 T oil, for sauteing ( I use grapeseed because of its high cooking point)
1 medium onion, minced fine
1 tsp. garlic, minced fine
.5 T sherry (optional)
10 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1 cup Greek yogurt, 0%
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
2 (5 oz) cans tuna in water, drained (I used albacore)
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
Non-dairy milk of your choice
3 tbsp sprinkle parmesan cheese (1 T. for creamy sauce, 2 T. for topping)
2 tbsp whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly spray an 8×8 casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook noodles in salted water until al dente, or slightly undercooked by 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. Add the oil to a large deep skillet. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms cook on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan. Set aside to cool.
4. In a separate bowl, combine Greek yogurt, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese, and tuna. Add nondairy milk 1 tablespoon at a time until consistency is that of a creamy dressing. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
5. Once cooled, combine the sauteed onion mixture with the peas and add to the Greek yogurt cream sauce.
6. For the breadcrumb topping, combine breadcrumbs with remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Set aside.
7. Combine the creamy tuna mixture with the cooked noodles and stir until all noodles are covered with sauce. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb topping evenly over the top of the noodles. Bake for about 20 minutes. For an extra crispy topping, briefly, place the casserole under the broiler–watch carefully not to burn!