My grain free tuna casserole came from wanting to duplicate my Mom or Grandma’s tuna casserole with cream of whatever soup. Those gloopy casserole staples of yesteryear are full of ingredients I cannot eat any longer. But certain comfort foods will just have to be remade into grain free versions because how does one get through the winter without comfort food? So experimenting was my answer to the dilemma. This recipe is my great successful result of that testing.
I knew I had to replace that mushroom-y flavor somehow. Mushrooms and something creamy would be a start but when I was grocery shopping one day, I saw the perfect substitute for that umami rich gloopy soup. It was a powdered seasoning in a “market” owned by a guy named Joseph ( wink wink ).
I think Mom or Grandma, I can’t remember who, used to have peas in their tuna casserole. If I was recalling that right, I had to have something there, but the chickpea pasta already has so many carbs and while grain free is mandatory for me, low carb is a really good idea too. Obviously, this is not low carb, but adding peas to pasta would be really going too far. So I diced up zucchini in place of the peas. It’s really a great texture in this dish. You won’t detect any squash flavor or odd texture since the zucchini is sauteed before baking. The green gives just the right addition to the finished dish to make me feel like it’s got those peas in it.
A word about grain free pasta
To make grain free tuna casserole grain free, you’ve got to ditch the pasta. I’ve only found a couple of brands of chickpea pasta. Both brands worked beautifully when tested in this recipe. Just make sure to follow the package directions for preparation. Chickpea noodles are not the same as regular pasta and they behave very differently so cooking them right is key. Another grain free noodle substitute I’ve found is red lentil pasta. I have not tested this recipe with red lentil pasta, however, it would likely work just fine.
- 2 boxes chickpea pasta, cooked according to package directions until almost cooked through
- 1 large package white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup finely chopped celery tops
- 4 medium zucchini, diced in pea size dice
- 2 large cans tuna, drained
- 1 red bell pepper (or half a jar of roasted red peppers)
- 1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 t mushroom seasoning
- 1/4 - 1/2 t garlic powder
- butter for sauteing
- 1 cup crushed, plain (not rippled) potato chips
- Salt & pepper to taste
- If using red bell pepper, halve pepper and remove stem, ribs and seeds. Lightly rub peel with olive oil and rub a bit of oil on a sheet pan. Broil pepper for about 5 minutes to blacken the skin. Remove from broiler and allow to cool while preparing other ingredients. Once cool, peel off blackened skin (do not rinse) and then dice pepper.
- Saute mushrooms, onions, and celery in a large skillet until softened in butter. Add to cooked noodles in a very large bowl.
- Saute zucchini in butter in the same skillet until almost cooked through. Add to bowl. Add drained tuna to bowl and stir to combine.
- Melt cream cheese in skillet over medium heat. Stir until smooth. Add sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir in seasonings. Pour sauce into bowl and stir to completely combine with noodles.
- Dice roasted red peppers and gently stir into noodle mixture (you don't want to have the mixture turn pink).
- Turn the mixture out into a large shallow baking dish (larger than 9 X 13 . Or use two baking dishes). Sprinkle crushed potato chips over all.
- Bake at 350;° for 20 - 30 minutes or until heated through and top is browned.
- This recipe makes enough casserole for two dinners or a large family. It is so good, you are going to want to have leftovers so don't shy away from the large quantity.
If there were one thing I might change up in this recipe, it would be to double the amount of red pepper. It’s just another one of those great umami flavors that makes the dish so yummy and satisfying.
This is a hearty cold weather meal which will fill you up and satisfy your comfort food craving. The sauce is flavorful and creamy plus … pasta, what more could you want? Crushed potato chips on top get all brown and add just the right crunch. It just ticks all the boxes.