Tu-no Casserole

This hearty casserole calls for garbanzo beans instead of tuna, and mushrooms instead of the traditional can of salt-heavy Cream of Mushroom Soup (has over 1,000mg sodium per can). Perfect for “comfort food” night. No-nut option as well.

TunoCasserole2

Ingredients
Sauce:
2½ cups unsweetened, non-dairy milk
½ cup unsalted cashews (2 oz.)
1 teaspoon granulated onion
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons kelp granules or powder (see below)

1½ cups uncooked elbow or small-shell pasta
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 2½ cups)
8 medium cremini or white mushrooms, sliced or chopped
2 cups green peas (frozen and thawed, or canned)
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 2 15-oz. cans, drained)

Instructions
1. Place all sauce ingredients into a blender and set aside (so the cashews can soften).

2. Cook the pasta in a soup pot according to the instructions on the package; drain and place the pasta back into the soup pot off of the heat. Preheat oven to 375°F.

3. Add the onions and mushrooms to a skillet on high heat, stirring and cooking for 5 to 7 minutes until softened and lightly browned (see photo below), adding a little water only as needed to prevent sticking. Add the cooked onion and mushrooms, as well as the peas, to the soup pot of cooked pasta.

4. Place the garbanzo beans into a food processor and pulse just until the beans are broken down (but not mushy), or smash them with a handheld bean or potato masher. Add to the soup pot.

5. Blend the sauce ingredients until smooth. Add to the soup pot and stir.

6. Spoon into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish (no oil or parchment paper is necessary). Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned (see photo below).

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 7 minutes (stovetop), 35 to 40 minutes (oven)
Serves: 6 to 8

NOTES

No-nut option: For a lower-fat and nut-free casserole, substitute 1½ cups cooked cannellini beans (or 1 15-oz. can, drained) for the cashews.

Fish flavor: If you’d like to add a little fish flavor, opt for the kelp granules or kelp powder above. I don’t like any in mine (even though I used to love tuna); it’s just too seaweedy for my tastes. But everyone’s love of seaweed/kelp is different, so the amount you add will be up to you; but 2 to 3 teaspoons is a good amount to start with, and then add more to your taste. (Note that kelp granules are more potent than kelp powder.)

CookingOnionsMushrooms

Above: I like to cook the onion and mushrooms until they are golden in color, adding just a little water as needed to prevent sticking.

TunoCasserolePreBake2

Above: Ready to go into the oven! I like my casserole more on the firm side; but if you want to make yours softer, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more non-dairy milk.

TunoCasseroleTwoQuartDish

Above: You can also make this in a 2-quart round casserole dish.

TunoCasserole

Above: For a grated cheese effect on top, use some walnuts in a rotary cheese grater.

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