I grew up in a very traditional suburban subdivision in the 1970’s and 1980’s where most of the mothers stayed home and were always looking for budget friendly meals. Tuna casserole was and still is one of my best friends favorites, and she learned to make it on her own at a very young age. And, of course, she taught me.
Canned tuna is one of the least expensive proteins you can buy. But, if you are like me, you are trying to reduce the amount of foods you eat out of a can. I am also trying to reduce the amount of preservatives and chemicals in my food, and eat higher quality carbohydrates, so I came up with this updated version of the classic tuna casserole. It does still have the canned tuna because, at least around here, fresh tuna is not at all budget friendly, but I have replaced the canned cream of mushroom soup with an easy to make mushroom cream sauce and substituted whole wheat noodles. The result is delicious and still very inexpensive, though I do admit that the original is probably cheaper to make, but I feel better feeding this version to my family. The taste is quite similar, but even though it might drive my best friend crazy, I think this one is even better.
I topped this casserole with seasoned panko bread crumbs and then dotted it with about two tablespoons of butter. It really does not need a topping, but I like it better with one. I have used a variety of different toppings, basically depending on what I already have on hand. Any type of bread or cracker crumbs and a little butter work well. I have also used shredded cheese, which is different, but equally as good.
- 2 5 oz. cans chunk light tuna packed in water, drained
- 1 12 oz. pkg. flat whole wheat noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
- 6 oz. fresh button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsps. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 4 cups (1 quart) milk
- 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
- Optional toppings: panko bread crumbs, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, butter, cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan.
- Add mushrooms and cook until tender.
- Remove mushrooms, and set aside.
- Stir in flour and salt and pepper until smooth.
- Slowly add milk, stirring constantly.
- Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute or until thickend.
- Stir in mushrooms and peas.
- Mix together, tuna, noodles and mushroom sauce.
- Pour into a large casserole dish.
- If you are using a topping, sprinkle crumbs over casserole and dot with about two tablespoons of butter, or top with cheese instead.
- Bake approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.