I thought about how I could make the sauce from scratch, and my recipe for baked mac and cheese came to mind. It's really just a white sauce with cheese added to it, so I decided I would try my hand at totally from scratch Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole.
It honestly was not much more work than breaking open a can of soup and adding milk to it. Really!
I did go heavy on the veg with peas, carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms for bulks sake, as well as using 1% milk and reduced fat cheese to help keep the calorie counts respectable. For the topping, I just used some crushed up buttery crackers.
I am sort of picky about the brand of tuna I use. I like to buy the Wild Planet Sustainably Caught Albacore Tuna packed in no liquid from Costco. It's a little on the pricey side, but well worth it, I think. There are environmental reasons to buy this tuna, but quite frankly, I just like how it tastes.
My high school son ate three helpings of this casserole...if that gives you any indication of how it tastes! If you are a fan of Tuna Casseroles, give this recipe a try and tell me what you think!
Lighter Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole (without Canned Cream Soup)
- 12 oz. dry pasta, shape of your choice (I used large macaroni)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 3 med carrots, peeled and diced ( or one cup frozen cut carrots)
- 2 cups sliced, raw button mushrooms
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 6 TBS unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup + 2 TBS all purpose flour
- 4 cups skim or 1% milk
- 1 cup low sodium, nonfat chicken broth
- 1 tsp. kosher salt ( or more or less to your liking)
- 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 cup of shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
- 2-5 oz. cans of albacore tuna packed in no liquid or in water, drained, and flaked apart
- 15 buttery-type crackers, crushed
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions but one or two minutes less than the package calls for. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Soften up the vegetables: While pasta is cooking, in a large nonstick skillet sprayed with misto olive oil or cooking spray, over medium-high heat, saute the onion, celery, and carrots (if using raw) for about 5 minutes to soften them. Add in the garlic. Continue to cook for about a minute or two, until garlic becomes fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook vegetables until they are all soft. Add in frozen peas and thyme. ( add in frozen carrots now if using frozen) Take off heat and set aside.
- Make the sauce: In the same pan you cooked the pasta in, melt the butter on med-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk. Cook for one minute while whisking. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to whisk. Add in the chicken broth. Continue to cook and stir until it begins to thicken. Cook one more minute. Take off heat. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the Dijon mustard, cheese, and tuna.
- Assemble the casserole: Spray a 13" x 9" baking pan with cooking spray. Add the reserved cooked pasta and the reserved softened vegetables to the sauce. Stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed crackers.
- Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Total time: 50 mins.
Tags: casserole, tuna, cheese
Servings - 10 Serving Size - 1/10th of casserole Points Plus per serving - 9P+
Calories - 343, Total Fat - 13.4g, Carb. - 42.6g, Protein - 18.7g, Fiber - 5g
Like I said, the kid had three helpings! I was on the fence as to whether or not I was going to post about this recipe, but in the end, I decided after some gentle persuading, to share. I served this with a green salad for our dinner.
I've got some really good things coming up on the blog next week. First off, a fantastic product review and giveaway...so be sure to look for it on Monday! Second, I am really excited to share with you this month's Secret Recipe Club pick. I made the recipe today and oh my goodness...YUMMMMMY!!
We FINALLY had a nice warmish spring day yesterday. I did a lot around the house and outside, of course. I cannot tell you what a difference even one day of nice weather makes for my soul! lol