This guest post comes to us from Heather Tullos from Sugar Dish Me.
Tuna Casserole is one of those timeless classic meals that can either put you over the moon with stick-to-the-ribs nostalgia or send you scrambling for the door.
My mom always gave us the super fast version made up of box mac ‘n’ cheese, cream-of-something soup, a can of tuna, and slices of American cheese melted over the top. I don’t remember having strong feelings about tuna casserole either way as a kid, but as an adult it is definitely a meal that conjures up happy memories of Corelle dishes and tall glasses of milk at my mom’s kitchen table (though I’m not so sure I could stomach the box mac ‘n’ cheese version anymore).
I decided that tuna casserole needed a makeover. I wanted it to feel a little more modern and fresh. I wanted it to either stand alone or make a stellar side dish at my own kitchen table. And, because I live in the South, I wanted it to work for all of the seasons, not just the cool and crisp fall/winter cold. This casserole has all the components of the original: noodles, cheese, flaked tuna, peas, and a creamy sauce. But it is updated (and healthier!) with whole wheat noodles. I replaced my mom’s sliced American cheese with a sharp low-fat white Cheddar. I added some lemon pepper breadcrumbs for a little crunch and zing. And I made the creamy sauce with a blend of Greek yogurt! That means that this casserole is packed with protein and can actually be served hot OR cold.
Cool and Creamy Tuna Casserole
12 ounces whole wheat egg noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
12 ounces canned tuna, drained and flaked (tuna packed in water works best)
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
salt & black pepper to taste
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (use your favorite! I go with a sharp low fat white Cheddar)
2 teaspoons spicy mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 cup lemon pepper Panko breadcrumbs
In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, onion, celery, peas, and tuna. Squeeze the lemon juice over the contents of the bowl (being careful not to drop seeds into the casserole!). Sprinkle with the salt and pepper (I go easy on the seasoning here and season again when serving).
In a smaller bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, Cheddar cheese, spicy mustard, red wine vinegar, and parsley. Pour the sauce over the pasta/tuna mixture in the larger bowl and stir or toss to coat.
If you are serving this casserole cold, empty the contents into your serving dish, sprinkle the top with the lemon pepper Panko breadcrumbs, and refrigerate for at least an hour (to let the flavors meld). I like to dress the cold tuna casserole with just a dash more red wine vinegar when serving.
If you are serving this hot, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Spread the noodle mixture evenly in the prepared pan and sprinkle the lemon pepper Panko bread crumbs over the top. You can also sprinkle with a little extra cheese if you like.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just until it’s heated through and the sauce begins to bubble a little.
Do you have childhood memories of tuna casserole?