This hearty casserole calls for garbanzo beans instead of tuna–a surprising but wonderful substitution–and sliced mushrooms instead of the traditional can of dairy-and salt-heavy Cream of Mushroom soup.
- For the casserole:
- 1½ cups dry/uncooked elbow macaroni or small-shell pasta
- 8 medium white or cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups cooked peas
- 2 cans cooked garbanzo beans (15 ounces each; about 3 cups total), drained and rinsed
- For the sauce:
- 2½ cups unsweetened nondairy milk
- 2 ounces raw, unsalted cashews (about ½ cup)
- 2 teaspoons granulated onion
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 3 to 4 teaspoons kelp granules (for a seafood flavor; optional)
- Place all of the sauce ingredients (milk, cashews, granulated onion and garlic, white pepper, and kelp granules, if using) into a blender, and set aside for at least 15 minutes (so the cashews can soften).
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water, return the pasta to the pot, and set it aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Set aside a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the water starts to sputter, add the mushrooms and onions, and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onions have softened and are lightly browned, adding a little water, as needed. Add the onions and mushrooms, along with the peas, to the pot of cooked pasta.
- Place the garbanzo beans into a food processor, and pulse just until the beans are broken up but not mushy (or use a fork or handheld bean masher). Add them to the soup pot.
- Blend the sauce ingredients until smooth, and stir into the pot. (The mixture may be soupy, but it will firm up during cooking.)
- Spoon the mixture evenly into the baking dish, and bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.
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.)
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.
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.
Above: You can also make this in a 2-quart round casserole dish.
Above: For a grated cheese effect on top, use some walnuts in a rotary cheese grater.
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