Friday, January 3, 2014

Not Your Mom's TuNO Casserole!

Actually, my mom's tuna casserole was amazing!  She never used canned cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup.  All of the ingredients were fresh (except for the canned tuna) and she made a creamy bechamel sauce all from scratch.  It was definitely a favorite in our house as I'm sure it was for a lot of kids from my generation.

I use a lot of ingredients in my vegan version.  I like to build on flavor but I've listed (optional) next to an ingredient that you can choose to omit or substitute with another ingredient.  This recipe is not as quick as opening a can of soup and boiling pasta, but it's amazing just like my mom's and definitely takes me back to my childhood!


2 tbsp olive oil
6 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1-2 tbsp dried nori or dulse flakes (optional)
1 cup pale dry sherry, or white wine (optional-I used sherry--goes great with mushrooms)
1 tbsp unbleached flour
1 to 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 to 2-1/2 cups cashew cream (1 cup soaked cashews with 2 cups water, blended in a VitaMix or high speed blender)
1 cup organic shredded baked savory tofu.  I like Wildwood or Trader Joes
1 cup frozen organic peas
1 package Daiya Cheddar Style Wedge, shredded
3/4 lb pasta shape of choice--I used fusilli
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

I think that's everything but I might of left something out...:-)

  • Preheat oven to 350 
  • Bring water to boil, add salt to taste and add pasta.  Cook until al dente, drain, rinse and set aside
  • Lightly butter a 9x9 casserole dish and set aside
  • In a large saute pan add olive oil and cook chopped mushrooms until brown
  • Add onion, celery, garlic and thyme and cook until veggies are soft
  • Deglaze with dry sherry and cook until evaporated
  • Add 1 tbsp flour and stir to combine
  • Add 1 to 1-1/2 cup veggie stock and reduce by half
  • Whisk in 2 cups cashew cream, and nori flakes, and simmer a couple of minutes until thick and creamy.
  • Remove from heat and stir in shredded tofu, frozen peas, fusilli pasta and 1 cup shredded cheese  
  • If mixture is too thick add a little more cashew cream
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Spoon mixture into casserole dish and top with extra cheese
  • Bake 20-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted
  • Remove from oven and top with panko mixture 
Note:  To make panko mixture, melt 2 tbsp butter in a small saute pan.  Add panko crumbs, chopped parsley and salt and pepper.  Toast until lightly brown and spoon onto top of baked casserole.  You probably wonder why I don't bake the panko with the casserole.  I like the panko to stay crispy and I also want to make sure that it doesn't get to brown which could happen in the oven.


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