Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Clean Eating Healthy Tuna Casserole--Because Sometimes You Just Need Homey Comfort Food

I just picked up the September/October Clean Eating Magazine and have already tabbed a bunch of recipes from it. Even though it's not fall yet and the weather is a bit steamy, I still felt the need for some comfort food this week and this recipe for Healthy Tuna Casserole caught my eye. In the "Budget Recipes: Five Family Dinners for Less Than $10 Each", this casserole is made with whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat breadcrumbs and whole-wheat flour to thicken the sauce, giving it some good fiber and complex carbs.  

Clean Eating says, "We've taken Grandma's old-fashioned standby and turned it on its head. Forget the salty canned soups and oily potato chips. Our tuna casserole teases the tongue with fresh dill, Dijon mustard, hidden vegetables (your little ones won't even notice them!) and a sprinkling of Parmesan." 

Healthy Tuna Casserole
Clean Eating, Sept/Oct 2009
(Serves 8)

6 slices whole-wheat bread
8 oz whole-wheat macaroni pasta
olive oil cooking spray
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
2 cups skim milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 carrots, peeled, cooked and diced
2 6-oz cans tuna packed in water, drained
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 Tbsp fresh dill, finely minced
1 Tbsp low-fat Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast bread in oven for 15 minutes or until just browned and crisp. Leave oven on at same temperature after removing bread. In a food processor fitted with a standard cutting blade, grind bread into breadcrumbs. Remove 1/2 cup for use and reserve remainder for another recipe.

Bring a large stockpot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat another large stockpot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Mist with cooking spray and add celery and onion. Saute for 2 minutes or until onions become translucent.

Add oil and flour and whisk briskly. Add milk whisking in 1/4 cup at a time (this will create a roux or thickener, for your soup). Reduce heat to medium. Whisk in Dijon. Then stir in drained pasta, carrots, tuna and peas. Add dill. Remove from heat. 

Pour tuna pasta mixture into a large 8-to 10-cup casserole dish. Top with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned on top. 

Nutrients per 1 cup serving: Cal 230, Total Fat 3g, Sat Fat 0.5g, Carbs 32g, Fiber 6g, Sugars 9g, Protein 20g, Sodium 250mg, Cholesterol 15mg. 

Notes/Results: Very good! This tuna casserole tastes great and it isn't too salty or heavy. I grew up with the condensed soup/potato chip tuna casserole, (which I happily ate and probably still would if it was put in front of me), but this is a much healthier and better option. I did add extra Dijon, dill and some freshly ground black pepper and a touch of salt, all of which kicked up the flavor considerably. The other thing I did differently was slice my carrots small and add them to the pot when I cooked my onion and celery rather than adding cooked carrots to the dish. Saves a step and I need my veggies slightly al dente and not at all mushy. The roux was nice and creamy and the whole-wheat bread crumbs stayed crispy on top too. Perfect homey comfort food, I will make this again.

It's been a few weeks since I participated in Presto Pasta Nights so I am sending my casserole along to this great event, hosted this week by Katie of One Little Corner of the World. Stop by her blog on Friday to see a wonderful variety of pasta creations.


  1. This does sound really good...and of course, way more healthy than the one we all grew up with in these parts. But I love that bad for you, salt-laden one...I can't help it! So, it's probably better to raise the kiddos on the healthy one so they won't become addicted to the, ah...unhealthy one ;)

  2. I'm very interested in this. I actually love tuna casseroles, but have yet to find one that isn't just a big gloppy mess, or so loaded with salt that it's all you taste. I really like the addition of carrots and peas - wouldn't have thought of that.

    Also interested in that Budget magazine!

  3. I love healthified comfort food. This way you get all the memory associations and warm fuzzy feelings without feeling like you need to go to the cardiologist afterwards. Besides the idea of potato chips on tuna kind of makes my stomach churn. This sounds really good!

  4. So did Max notice the veggies?
    I love healthied comfort foods too - hubs would especially love this. Great idea to amp up the flavours.. a woman after my own heart!

  5. Wow, this tuna casserole sure sounds and looks like a very homey dish...very comforting as well...yummie!

  6. Yum! That looks seriously delicious - not at all like the old Campbell's soup version.

  7. This sounds good, but I'll probably sub regular pasta. I just haven't found a whole wheat one that I like that much.

  8. I have always loved Tuna casserole. Thansk for sharing a lightened up version for us to try:D

  9. This sounds like an extremely tasty dish as well as comforting and the health benefits are another great aspect to an already fantastic dish!

  10. Glad you're back and sharing this tasty treat with Presto Pasta Night.

    Way to hot for eating now, but it's bookmarked for a cool fall day.

  11. It's another great tuna idea for me. We have plenty of fresh tuna here in my place, it's great to get another idea how to eat them.


  12. Looks great! Thanks for sharing with PPN. We eat tuna quite a bit. Putting this one on the list.

  13. I made this tonight. I doubled the celery and carrot amounts, and increased by 50% the tuna to make it healthier. I may even double the tuna next time. It was great. Keep 'em coming!

  14. It would be helpful if this had been scaled down for a smaller family! This makes a very large potion, more suited to a pot luck than for a family of 3 or 4.

    Thankfully many of the cooking light magazines assemble recipies for smaller families like mine.

  15. Mark--this particular recipe does make a large portion and as you do I cook for a small family (1!). The recipe reheats well--I ate it all week for lunches and it scales down easily. It would be simple to just make half of it. A lot of the recipes in Clean Eating are for larger families but they have many small portion ones too.

  16. I'm really looking forward to trying this. We always add frozen mixed vegetables to ours (minus the limas!). Never made it with potato chips or bread crumbs tho or cheese either.

  17. Thank you for the healthiest version of one of my favourite comfort foods. I grew up with my mom adding the celery in raw. I recommend it(I know its sometimes hard to get passed the little ones) for an added crunch of yumminess :o )


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