Lighter Tuna Casserole

Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients | gimmesomeoven.comThis post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

I thought we’d take a little stroll down memory lane today to one of my favorite retro dishes from childhood — tuna casserole!!

Oh yeah.  You’d better believe this was one of the favorite dishes in our family when I was young, and you’d better believe we made it from the box.  Even my little sister and I used to be able to make it from the box!  Just add a little water, a few cups of milk, a pat of butter, a few cans of tuna, give it a stir and toss it in the oven, and — ba da bing, ba da boom — dinner was served.  (With a generous side helping of processed ingredients of course, but hey, who cared about those back in the day?!)

Well, times have changed, and my mom and sister and I no longer have the boxed pasta meals hanging out in our pantries.  But our love for this classic comfort food dish is still as strong as ever.  So for a little throwback Thursday meal last week, I decided to try whipping up a lighter tuna casserole recipe that I could feel good about.  Turns out, it only takes a little bit longer than the ol’ boxed version.  And turns out, it tastes even better.  :)

Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients | gimmesomeoven.com

The key, of course, is to use lots of fresh ingredients.  Fresh carrots?  Check.  Fresh mushrooms?  Check.  Fresh garlic?  Check.  Fresh peas?  (Ok, frozen are much easier.)  Check.

Stir those in with a lighter cream sauce (made with an unsweetened almond milk base instead of cream), your favorite tuna (I prefer albacore tuna packed in water instead of oil), toss them with your favorite kind of pasta (I went with no-yolk “egg” noodles, although whole wheat pasta would be great), and then add in a handful of part-skim sharp cheddar for that retro cheesy casserole goodness.

If you want, you can just serve this as a stovetop pasta right then and there!

Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients | gimmesomeoven.com

Or if you want to bake it up, add some Panko on top and toss it in the oven until the filling is nice and bubbly and the topping is golden and crispy.  Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients | gimmesomeoven.com

Then serve it up…
Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients | gimmesomeoven.com

…and enjoy every delicious, flavorful, tuna-y bite.

This recipe is decidedly lighter and less processed than the version I grew up with, but I promise that it’s just as satisfying and comforting.  Just be sure to have a peppermint on hand for afterwards.  Because, well, tuna will always be tuna.  ;)

Enjoy, everyone!

Lighter Tuna Casserole

This lighter tuna casserole recipe is easy to make, full of great flavor, and lightened up with a few simple tweaks.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces wide egg noodles (or no-yolk noodles)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened AlmondMilk)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces baby Bella or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 (5-ounce) cans tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook egg noodles al dente in a large pot of generously-salted water in a large stockpot according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, as the water for the noodles is cooking, melt butter (or olive oil) in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and carrots, and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until both are soft.  Add garlic and saute for 1 more minute until fragrant.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 more minute.  Whisk in the chicken stock until it is combined, then stir in the milk, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, mushrooms, peas and tuna.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens and the mushrooms are cooked, about 4-6 more minutes.

Once the noodles are ready, add the sauce mixture to the (drained) noodles, and toss to combine.  Stir in the cheddar cheese until it is evenly combined.  Then you can either serve the pasta as-is at this point, or continue on to bake it.

If you are baking the casserole, pour the noodles into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  Sprinkle the Panko breadcrumbs evenly on top of the pasta, then mist with some cooking spray.  (Or I prefer to use olive oil in a Misto.)  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top of the pasta is slightly crispy and golden, and the filling is bubbly on the sides.

Remove and serve warm.

I took a few tips for lightening this up from my friend Gina, so this recipe is adapted from SkinnyTaste.

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk.  I am partnering with them to bring you some tasty and healthier recipes this year, and all almond-milk-loving opinions are my own as always.  Thanks for continuing to support the brands who help make this site possible.Lighter Tuna Casserole -- tastes just like the classic dish, but lightened up with fresh ingredients | gimmesomeoven.com

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Comments

  1. Joanna — July 31, 2015 @ 5:52 am (#)

    Yummy! Looks perfect for this summer (chilly, rainy and cloudy..) English days!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 4th, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

      Thanks Joanna, we hope you enjoy it!

  2. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — July 31, 2015 @ 6:14 am (#)

    You know what’s crayzay? I’ve actually NEVER had tuna casserole!
    I KNOW, I was deprived of childhood.  BUT, I love me some Almond  Breeze and tuna, so I will have to start my experience with this here casserole of noodley goodness! Pinned!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 4th, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

      Don’t worry, I’ve never tried it either (though now I really really want to)! Let us know what you think! :)

  3. Evelina — July 31, 2015 @ 6:28 am (#)

    mm! looks delicious!  ❤

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 4th, 2015 @ 5:41 pm

      Thanks Evelina, we hope you enjoy!

  4. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — July 31, 2015 @ 6:33 am (#)

    Oh man this brings back so many childhood memories!! My mom makes the BEST tuna casserole. (Who doesn’t say that?) Anyway she adds plain yogurt and to this day I can’t make it without that tangy yogurt. Thanks for the stroll back!

  5. Chicago Jogger — July 31, 2015 @ 8:45 am (#)

    Tuna Casserole is by far my favorite childhood meal! I love the re-make. Pinning :)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 7th, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

      Thanks, we hope you love this recipe! :)

  6. Chrissa - Physical Kitchness — July 31, 2015 @ 10:50 am (#)

    Mmmmm this is like the perfect summer comfort food! My hubby is from MN (thought you would appreciate that!) but we live in Northern California now – seafood is prevalent! So I could be all hoidy-toidy and say something like, “Oh I’m going to put fresh tuna in my casserole” but let’s face it, I have a 10 month old, life is crazy, and I have canned tuna in the pantry….

    I’m going to try this with either noodles or GF pasta and sub the flour with a GF flour blend. Looks yummy!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 7th, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

      Thanks Chrissa! We’re so envious of you guys living in Northern California – so freaking beautiful! We hope you and your family enjoy the recipe! :)

  7. Susan — July 31, 2015 @ 12:28 pm (#)

    I’ve been making Gina’s tuna casserole for a while, so I’ll have to check this one out, too.  Believe it or not, this is a dish I came to enjoy as an adult – it never made an appearance on my mother’s table, probably because my Hungarian father wanted Hungarian food, so that’s what she cooked.  

  8. Shashi at RunninSrilankan — July 31, 2015 @ 12:41 pm (#)

    I’ve seen a lot of Blue Diamond Almond recipes recently and this is such a creative use of them! Also – lightened up tuna casserole – yes – I will have seconds!

  9. amanda — July 31, 2015 @ 12:51 pm (#)

    I love this recipe makeover!

  10. Sarah (@ People, Places & Plates) — July 31, 2015 @ 1:12 pm (#)

    Great idea! I’ve just uncovered a few tuna cans at the back of the cupboard that I wanted to use up…so this is perfect. Just needs a few potato chips crunched over top ;)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 4th, 2015 @ 6:03 pm

      Thanks Sarah, we hope you love this! And YES to those potato chips on top!

  11. Heather @ The Spicy Apron — August 1, 2015 @ 10:39 am (#)

    So… my brother in law said he KNEW he was in love with my sister when he not only ate a serving of her goopy, gloppy, mayonnaise-y, tuna casserole, but he asked for seconds! When he proposed, he said he’d marry her if she promised never to make that again! Ha! I’m thinking we need to try this one out on him! 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 7th, 2015 @ 11:57 am

      Oh my goodness, what a story! lol

  12. Margaret Ann (MAK and Her Cheese) — August 1, 2015 @ 5:41 pm (#)

    I love canned tuna, but I’ve never had tuna casserole. My family has an ongoing joke about the dreadful tuna noodle casserole my mom used to make, but maybe I can bring it back with this recipe! Thanks!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 4th, 2015 @ 6:20 pm

      Yes, hopefully you and your family will like this one! We think you should definitely give it a try (and report back)! :)

  13. Savita @ ChefDeHome — August 5, 2015 @ 7:32 pm (#)

    This is total my kinda casserole, light and fit! What a creative use of almonds too!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 5th, 2015 @ 10:52 pm

      Thanks Savita, we hope you enjoy it!

  14. Melissa @ Made by Melissa Lee — August 9, 2015 @ 6:31 am (#)

    I’ve been wanting to make a tuna noodle casserole for quite a while now, but am always turned off by the heavy ingredients. This one looks like a keeper though! Can’t wait to try it out!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 13th, 2015 @ 1:42 pm

      Thanks Melissa, we hope you enjoy it!

  15. Michele — August 11, 2015 @ 10:23 pm (#)

    I made this tonight and holy cow was it awesome! I used whatever veggies were in my freezer plus the recommended onions garlic and mushrooms. Thank you so much!! I was shocked at how simple and delicious this is! I’ll definitely be making it again. Winner!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 13th, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

      Thanks Michele, we’re happy to hear that, and the onions, garlic and mushrooms sound awesome!

  16. JRo — August 18, 2015 @ 9:18 pm (#)

    I made this last night with the following change: I used celery in place of onion because we both hate onions with a passion. And, funnily, the almond milk I had on hand was vanilla unsweetened! But it didn’t impact the flavor thankfully! I did feel like the recipe needed a little umami boost after the first night, so I sprinkled some smoked paprika on the browned bread crumbs. But that’s just me – I love love love smoky flavor.  This is a great makeover and it is so worth the slightly bit more effort of chopping fresh veggies and making your own creamy sauce.  Making a fresh ingredient casserole is always far and away more comforting – Alton Brown’s homemade green bean casserole is like a new religion for Thanksgiving.  
    Thanks for the makeover – this house loved it!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 19th, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

      We think celery is a great addition/sub for the onions! That is funny about the almond milk, but we’re glad the vanilla wasn’t noticeable, good to know! Also, we love that you added some smoked paprika (great call)! We’re happy you and your family enjoyed this!

  17. Geneviève — August 24, 2015 @ 3:28 pm (#)

    I was craving a comforting meal on the weekend and made this casserole and it was so delicious! All sorts of flavours mix together really well. Will share it on my blog for sure this week! Thanks for another great recipe!

  18. Tickikue — August 30, 2015 @ 5:48 pm (#)

    I absolutely HAVE to make this! My grandkids love this kind of casserole. Perfect. My tummys grumbling just by reading the ingredients list!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 2nd, 2015 @ 10:47 am

      Thank you, we hope you all enjoy! :)

  19. Lindsay — October 1, 2015 @ 5:11 pm (#)

    Seriously, I cannot believe how delicious this was. I added a bit of extra cheese and my kids wolfed it down. MUCH better than the boxed version I also grew up on and loved.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 2nd, 2015 @ 4:17 pm

      Thanks Lindsay, we’re so happy you and your kiddos loved it! :)

  20. Sara R — October 2, 2015 @ 7:54 pm (#)

    Just made this tonight and dang was it tasty! My boyfriend was on the verge of HANGRY, and he devoured this… three heaping plates of it. Tuna casserole was a favorite of mine as a kid, and while this was quite different than mom’s, it still had that hearty  comfort food feeling. It’s definitely healthier than the old  standby, and it’s got even more flavor. Thanks for a great recipe, I’ll be making this one again for sure!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 2nd, 2015 @ 10:14 pm

      Thanks Sara, we’re glad you and your boyfriend liked this! And wow, we’re impressed by his three servings of it, that’s always a good sign! :) Thanks for giving the recipe a try — have a great weekend!

  21. Cristina — January 11, 2016 @ 3:53 pm (#)

    I just finish to make it and it was very tasty and easy and chip. Thank you

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — January 11th, 2016 @ 9:49 pm

      Thanks Cristina, we’re happy you enjoyed this! :)

  22. Allison — April 3, 2016 @ 11:24 pm (#)

    I didn’t know I was craving this until I stumbled across this recipe. This is so delicious! Thank you for making this healthified version of a classic that I know feel better about adding into my regular meal rotaion!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 4th, 2016 @ 2:36 pm

      Thanks Allison — we’re so glad you enjoy it! :)

  23. Allie — June 21, 2016 @ 6:47 pm (#)

    Great recipe! Made it tonight and it was super comforting and easy! Thanks for sharing! 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 22nd, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

      We’re so happy you liked it Allie! :)

  24. Carol — July 28, 2016 @ 4:11 am (#)

    This tuna casserole made from scratch was delicious, full of flavour and easy to prepare. I halved the recipe for my hubby and I but won’t the next time so we can have leftovers. It’s very chilly in Melbourne, Australia at the moment so this was certainly comfort food.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 28th, 2016 @ 9:37 am

      We’re happy to hear you enjoyed it Carol! And stay warm! :)

  25. Nicole — November 28, 2016 @ 2:54 pm (#)

    Excellent! Will now be my family’s recipe for years to come!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 28th, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

      Awesome! We’re so glad you guys enjoyed it!