How to Make Tuna Casserole Bake Without Mushroom Soup
Yes, "old fashioned" tuna bake usually includes a can or two of condensed mushroom soup, but this recipe doesn't. Instead, the "new fashioned" tuna bake includes plenty of flavor without all the bad stuff found in the canned soup. This version also is quick to do, cheap to make, and provides great leftovers. In fact, I think the leftovers, rewarmed, actually are great because the flavors have a chance to meld. Admittedly, this probably isn't your mother's tuna bake. It's most likely better. The dish is full of real mushrooms and tuna, and it has plenty of sharp cheese to bind the dish together and melt on top. And crunchy bread bits, too! And, yes, if you'd like, you can prepare the dish ahead, refrigerate it until dinner time, and then bake it. Enjoy!
Tuna Casserole Bake -- Serves 4+
1 tablespoon of canola or olive oil
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
1/4 cup of shredded carrots (the kind from the bag is fine)
8 ounces of chopped mushrooms (yes, chopped, not sliced)
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of chicken reduced sodium "Better Than Bullion"
1 cup of uncooked medium pasta shells (or similar-size pasta)
12-ounce can of tuna, drained (cheap chunk light is just fine)
1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup of sour cream (light is fine)
1/2 teaspoon of dried dill week
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 slices of stale bread crumbled
Spritz a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside. In a large oven-proof skillet or chef's pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the celery, green onions, carrots, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and saute them for 5-8 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the water and bullion and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the pasta shells and bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil, partially cover the pan, and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes until the shells have absorbed most (but not all) of the liquid in the pan and have softened a little but are still slightly firm (i.e., not mushy). While the shells are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and, in a cup, mix together the flour and milk until smooth. When the shells are ready, remove the lid, turn down the heat to medium-low, stir in the tuna, 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, the flour/milk mixture, and the tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Stir the mixture until it thickens. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream and dill weed. Taste the mixture and add a little more salt and pepper, if you'd like. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top the mixture with the remaining cheese and the crumbled bread. At this point you can let the tuna mixture cool, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it to bake later in the day (at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes). You also can bake the mixture immediately. Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the tuna bake is bubbling. Let the bake cool for a few minutes to firm up before serving it.