This Tuna Noodle Casserole delivers a modern twist on the retro classic while staying true to its humble roots! A huge crowd pleaser!
Thank you Arla Lactofree for sponsoring this post and keeping Vikalinka family pain free!!
Tuna Noodle casserole usually evokes quite strong feelings. Both good and bad. I didn’t grow up eating this American classic but I have experienced it as a young adult while attending college in Minnesota.
I can’t say I was thrilled whenever it was on the menu. The tuna noodle casserole, we were served in our college cafeteria, was quite a bland mixture held together by copious amounts of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and mayonnaise. No, it didn’t leave a good impression.
What possessed me to re-make it you might ask? I guess the realisation that the basis of it is quite good and if used with quality ingredients and infused with flavour, could be healthy and nutritious.
Not to mention, extremely cheap. Yes, tuna noodle casserole is very inexpensive way to feed a crowd. It is also quite convenient as you can make it ahead of time and freeze it until needed. The quality will remain the same.
The idea for this tuna noodle casserole came from a tuna melt I made one day using tuna, capers, mayo, mustard and tarragon on a slice of sourdough.
I was just playing around and using the ingredients I had. When I took the first bite, the taste of it blew my mind! So turning the sandwich into a hot casserole made from scratch was a no brainer.
What goes into Tuna Noodle Casserole without Cream of Mushroom Soup?
The recipe I am sharing today is a creamy and cheesy riff off the retro version we all know. I updated the recipe by swapping out the Campbell’s cream of mushroom sauce for a much more sophisticated, homemade cream sauce.
This homemade sauce is very easy to make and it actually compliments the rest of the ingredients instead of competing with them like the cream of mushroom soup does. Capers, tarragon (game changer), a splash of white wine and dijon mustard all work so well in combination with tuna.
Let me tell you…this dish was such a hit with my kids. It became an instant family favourite. If you don’t like tarragon, use parsley but I beg you to give tarragon a chance.
How to make a tuna noodle casserole healthy
I decided to use wholewheat fusilli and also added cavolo nero kale for extra nutrition. Top finish it off, I sprinkled some cheese and herb and garlic breadcrumbs.
I know it may sound like a presumptuous statement but I think I created the tastiest tuna noodle casserole ever!! Another win is it takes 30 minutes to prepare and it is so inexpensive!!
What can I serve with Tuna Noodle Casserole?
One of the best things about this dish is that it’s a one pan dinner since we have starch, protein and a vegetable cooked together.
So all you need to round off your meal is a green vegetable salad.
More old fashioned casserole recipes with a modern twist
- Brie and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup Pasta Bake
- Bakes Sausage Pasta with Arugula
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves chopped
- 1 tbsp flour
- 125 ml/1/2 cup white wine
- 250 ml/1 cup cream
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp capers
- salt and pepper
- 2 X160g cans of tuna
- 1/2 lbs wholewheat pasta
- 100 g/1 cup kale or spinach chopped
- 75 g/1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated
- 2 tbsp herb and garlic breadcrumbs recipe link in the text
- Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp of salt and cook pasta according to package directions.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Make the cream sauce by melting the butter in a large pan and sautéing chopped onion with fresh tarragon in it over low heat until onion is tender and tarragon is fragrant for approximately 7 minutes.
- Add flour and cook while stirring for one minute, then add wine, let it bubble for a few seconds, then add cream, mustard and capers, cook for additional 3-4 minutes over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, add salt to taste and take it off the heat.
- Drain pasta when cooked and add directly to the sauce, then add drained tuna, chopped kale, gently toss to combine, add additional salt if needed.
- Sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs (* At this point you can freeze the casserole and cook it at a later date.) Or if cooking immediately, bake in the preheated oven uncovered for 20 minutes until the top is golden and the tuna noodle casserole is heated through.