We’re still in waiting mode here for the little one to make her arrival (Craig really wants it to be today because of the full moon/Friday the 13th thing—that apparently only happens every 50 years or so). I’m honestly doing just fine with playing the waiting game. I’m not the most comfortable I’ve ever been, but I’m definitely enjoying the extra free time. I’ve even had time to do some freezer filling! I know we’ll definitely appreciate some stashed foods in the coming weeks.
When I was thinking about what foods I wanted stashed in the fridge and freezer for post-baby, I knew I definitely wanted some comfort foods. Tuna casserole is one of those foods that I had so often as a kid, that it just screams “comfort!” to me. And when I got my first apartment as a young college kid, my Mama jotted down the recipe on a piece of paper so I could make sure to get some good old-fashioned comfort even though she wasn’t nearby.
The original recipe for this dish uses canned condensed soups to give it its creamy texture and tons of flavor. I’m not a huge fan of those soups because they’re mostly packed with artificial ingredients and tons and tons of sodium (and not a lot of nutrients). There are some all-natural versions out there, but at almost $5 a can, they mean making tuna noodle casserole is no longer an affordable comfort food, but a pricey gourmet dish!
Instead, I use my own versions of those condensed soups that are homemade, all-natural and way tastier. I actually make big batches of cream of chicken, creamy of celery and cream of mushroom soups and freeze them in “can-sized” portions just for dishes like these. Combine that with whole grain egg noodles and this dish is darn near health food.
I tripled this recipe and divided it between three square dishes for freezing and one for immediate eating. To freeze, I just line a square baking dish with overlapping, overhanging foil, and then fill with the mixture and toppings. Then, I just fold over the foil to make a seal, and pop the whole thing in the freezer for a few hours until solid. Then, I pop the casserole brick out of the square baking dish, and slide it into a labeled gallon zip-top bag (I make sure to label the bag with what the casserole is, when I made it and, most importantly, what baking dish it’ll fit back into).
Then, when it’s time to cook, I can just plop the frozen brick into the baking dish (foil and all) and either let it defrost completely in the fridge if I’m on top of things, or cook it from frozen for about an hour longer than the original cooking time. Whip up a fresh green side salad and dinner is served!
Makeover this classic casserole to be more health-friendly by using whole grain noodles and a healthy homemade version of the cream of celery soup—you’ll never go back to the canned stuff!
- 2 tablespoons buter
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1/2 large green pepper, diced
- 8 ounces whole wheat egg noodles, cooked al dente
- 2-5 ounce cans tuna, drained
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 can (about 1-1/2 cups) cream of celery soup
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a two quart casserole dish, set aside.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add in the celery, onion and green pepper and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sautéed veggies, egg noodles, tuna, mayo, and salt. Set, aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cream of celery soup and milk and heat over medium-high heat until heated through, about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Add the mixture to the noodle mixture, tossing to coat.
- Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crunchy.