When I was growing up, one of my family responsibilities was to cook dinner every Thursday night. Thursday nights were particularly difficult for my parents to make dinner, since they usually both came home well after 8pm. Strange how incredibly late this sounds like to me, now that I work from home and am fortunate to pick the kiddos up from school every day.
Looking back, I didn’t really see this “responsibility” as a chore.
Instead, I looked at it as an opportunity to prepare dinner for the family and help out. I enjoyed cooking, especially when the house was quiet and I could just take charge.
I didn’t have many recipes in my repertoire back then, though. In fact, it was pretty much one major recipe: tuna noodle casserole.
Now, I have no idea how I even learned to make tuna noodle casserole, nor why nor how it became my go-to signature dish.
But it did. And we all loved it.
From the creamy, savory noodles, to the slightly chewy and crispy toasted parmesan topping, I remember savoring it and eating more than I probably should have before anyone else got home.
Nowadays, I rarely make this childhood favorite. Sadly, Dustin doesn’t like tuna (like…at all) and the kids don’t really get or appreciate casseroles.
But that doesn’t stop me from my old family fave.
The other day, I made this healthier, skinny version of my tuna noodle casserole. I took the recipe I knew by heart from when I was younger and replaced some key ingredients to lighten it up.
Instead of condensed cream of mushroom, I used fresh mushrooms and low sodium chicken broth.
Instead of all-purpose flour, I used chickpea flour.
Instead of overly salted and oily canned tuna, I used humanely-caught tuna in it’s own juices.
Finally, instead of breadcrumbs on top, I used almond meal.
And it was still fabulous. Every bit as creamy, savory, and as perfect as I remembered.
It’s crazy how some recipes will never leave your memory, no matter how long it’s been.
I’m so excited this tuna noodle casserole recipe was just as delicious as the old version from my youth, since that means I can throw it in the rotation more often.
Heck – even if I’m the only one who’ll eat it in my house, it is still a satisfying, filling, and delicious easy weeknight dinner and makes great left-overs, too.
- 12 oz. brown rice pasta (I use farfalle)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 6 cremini mushrooms, diced
- ¾ cup peas, frozen
- 2 5-oz. cans tuna*
- 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp. almond meal
- 1 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9x12 casserole dish with olive oil, then set aside.
- Add the noodles to a deep stock pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 6-7 minutes. Then, drain and set aside. (I use brown rice farfalle noodles for this recipe, but you could also use quinoa noodles if you prefer.)
- Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet, and add the diced yellow onion and sliced celery. Cook on medium-high until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the diced mushrooms and minced garlic, and cook until tender and beginning to turn golden, about 3-4 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the chickpea flour and stir well to incorporate.
- Slowly stir in the low sodium chicken broth and unsweetened almond milk until well combined, increasing the heat to bring to a low boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-8 minutes, or until the mixture starts to reduce and thicken.
- Add in the tuna along with the frozen peas, and stir another minute to heat through.
- Add the cooked, drained noodles to the sauce and mix well until evenly coated.
- Pour into the casserole dish and top with a mixture of parmesan cheese and almond meal.
- Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top becomes crisp and slightly golden.
- Sprinkle some fresh Italian parsley over the top and serve.
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