March 31, 2014

Tuna noodle casserole is one of America's most popular dishes for many reasons. It is extremely convenient to make and can be made without using any fresh ingredients. If you have a can of tuna, a can of vegetables, a can of mushroom soup, and a package of noodles, dinner can be on the table in a little over 30 minutes.

In the 1950s, casseroles became very popular across the United States. Casseroles are easily frozen or refrigerated and then reheated. They are also ideal to share at potlucks and to take to others as a kind gesture.

There are numerous versions of tuna noodle casserole and for most, either you love it or you don't. The standard ingredients in most tuna casserole are the same, and it's usually topped with something crunchy like potato chips, crackers or french-fried onions.

If you're not a big fan of traditional tuna noodle casserole, there are plenty of ways to change up this simple dish to suit your taste.

Tuna Casserole with Cream Cheese

Typically tuna noodle casserole calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup, but if you'd rather not use condensed soup, Just a Pinch Recipes suggests using cream cheese instead. The result is a smooth and creamy sauce.

1 can mushroom pieces, drained

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

1 medium green pepper, diced

12 oz pkg large egg noodles, no-yolk variety

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups milk

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese

2 cans tuna, packed in water (6.5 oz) each

1 small can peas, drained (or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed)

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

French fried onions or breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese

Sauté mushrooms, garlic, onion and green peppers in fry pan. Put aside. Cook the noodles in salted water; drain.

Melt butter in large fry pan and blend in flour. Whisk together. Add milk slowly, cooking and stirring constantly. Once sauce is thick and smooth add cream cheese and blend. Then add cooked noodles, and lastly the cans of tuna with water, peas, peppers, onion, and mushrooms combination. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour into a large 9x12 greased baking dish. Top with cheese and then sprinkle French onions or breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cajun Tuna Casserole

Instead of canned tuna Cuisine at Home's recipe uses chunks of tuna steaks mixed with bow tie pasta to create a gourmet tuna dinner.

8 oz dry farfalle (bow tie) pasta

12 oz fresh or frozen tuna steaks (thawed if frozen)

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Sauce:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

8 oz sliced button mushrooms

1 cup diced onion

3/4 cup diced celery

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

3 cups milk

1 jar sliced pimentos, drained (4 oz)

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

salt and black pepper to taste

For the Topping:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray. Cook farfalle in a pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain pasta; set aside.

Pat tuna dry with paper towels. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning over both sides of steaks. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high; add tuna. Cook until tuna is blackened on both sides, about 2 minutes per side; remove tuna to a plate. When tuna is cool enough to handle, break it into chunks; set aside.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, and cayenne. Cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute. Add sherry and soy sauce; cook until liquid evaporates.

Whisk in milk and bring mixture to a boil. Cook until sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes. Stir in pimentos and Parmesan.

Combine farfalle, sauce, and tuna in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into the prepared dish.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread crumbs; toast until brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in parsley. Spread crumbs over tuna mixture in dish and bake until brown, 30 minutes. Remove casserole from oven; cool on a rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Greek Tuna Casserole

Traditional tuna casserole is made with egg noodles. Diabetic Living has come up with a healthier alternative replacing the noodles with whole wheat orzo and adding eggplant and sweet red pepper to a timeless classic.

nonstick cooking spray

1/3 cup dried whole wheat orzo pasta

1 medium eggplant, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch-thick slices

1 large red sweet pepper, stemmed, quartered, and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

4 tablespoons snipped fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)

3 (5 oz) cans very low sodium tuna (water pack), undrained, large pieces broken up

1 (9 oz) pkg frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and quartered if needed

1/2 cup ripe olives, halved

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 oz)

1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 1 1/2-quart au gratin dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil. Lightly coat both sides of each eggplant slice with cooking spray. Place coated eggplant slices in the prepared baking pan. Add sweet pepper quarters to pan with eggplant slices. Roast, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until eggplant begins to brown and peppers are just tender. Remove from oven; let cool. Cut eggplant and pepper pieces into 3/4-inch cubes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

For lemon dressing, in a small bowl whisk together olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the lemon peel, the lemon juice, and garlic. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the oregano, the salt, and black pepper; set aside. In another small bowl combine panko, the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel; set aside.

In a large bowl combine cooked orzo, eggplant, sweet pepper, tuna, artichoke hearts, olives, and feta cheese. Stir in the lemon dressing. Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake in the 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle panko mixture over top. Bake, uncovered, for 5 to 8 minutes more or until panko mixture is golden brown. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Info Per 6 Servings:

239 cal., 8 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 37 mg chol., 436 mg sodium, 24 g carb. (9 g fiber, 5 g sugars), 20 g pro.

Diabetic Exchanges:

Fat (d.e): 1; Lean Meat (d.e): 2; Vegetables (d.e): 1; Mark as Free Exchange (d.e): 0; Starch (d.e): 1

Tuna and Shells Casserole with Crunchy Topping

What better pasta to use than shell-shaped in this Southern dish from This dish includes most of the traditional ingredients in tuna casserole plus Creole seasoning, dry sherry and layer of crushed cheese crackers on top.

1 pound medium shells or medium conchiglie

6 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups diced celery

1 1/2 cups diced onion

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

5 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning or seasoned salt blend

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons dry sherry, optional

1 1/2 cups whole milk or half-and-half

2 cups (8 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

2 cans (6 to 7 oz each) white tuna in water, drained, or use oil-packed light tuna, drained

1 cup frozen green peas, cooked

1 cup small cheese crackers

Grease a 3-quart baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta following package directions; drain, rinse, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add celery and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in flour, seasoning, and pepper until well blended and bubbly. Stir in the chicken broth and sherry. Bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Continue cooking until the mixture begins to simmer again and cheese has melted. Break tuna up and stir into the sauce along with the peas. Combine the sauce mixture with the drained pasta. Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish. Crush the crackers and combine with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Sprinkle over the casserole and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Serves 6 to 8

Tuna Pie With Biscuit Topping

For something totally different, top tuna and hard boiled eggs with cheesy biscuits. Creamy tuna underneath and hot biscuits on top will bring comfort food to a whole new level.

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 3/4 cups milk

1 can (7 oz) tuna, drained

1 teaspoon chopped pimiento

1 can (4 oz) mushrooms, sliced and drained

2 hard-boiled eggs, diced

1 teaspoon minced onions

Cheese Biscuits:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese

3/4 cup milk

Melt butter in saucepan; add flour and salt, mixing well. Add milk slowly; bring to boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Pour into a 2-quart casserole. Arrange cheese biscuits on top.

Cheese Biscuits:

Sift dry ingredients together into a bowl; cut in shortening. Add grated cheese. Add milk, stirring with a fork until all flour is moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured cloth-covered board and knead gently for 20 seconds. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with lightly floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on top of hot tuna mixture in casserole dish. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8

Tuna Rice Casserole

In this game changer recipe, rice takes the place of egg noodles and the addition of a touch of cayenne pepper adds a little something extra to this classic recipe.

1/4 cup butter, divided

8 oz sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

dash cayenne pepper

1 can (9 to 12 ounces) white tuna, drained and flaked

2 cups hot cooked rice

1/2 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese, divided

1/3 cup cracker crumbs or fine dry bread crumbs


Heat butter over low heat; sauté mushrooms, celery, and chopped onion. Blend in flour; remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk. Add salt and cayenne pepper; return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

In a bowl, combine tuna with the cooked rice and all but 2 tablespoons of the shredded cheese. Add the sauce mixture and gently mix. Turn rice and tuna mixture into a 2-quart casserole. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; toss with the cracker crumbs of bread crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs and remaining cheese over casserole. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Serves 6