This hearty dish featuring canned tuna, pasta and a creamy sauce is a firm family favorite, especially popular during the cold winter months as a comfort food and during Lent as a meat-free dinner option. Such an easy meal to prepare and many versions typically use simple ingredients that are found readily stocked in the pantry (though you can experiment and get a little fancy if you like).
Today’s Recipe Hit List features a collection of tuna casseroles that I’ve handpicked from around the ‘net, some are quick and easy to make using canned soups (no one’s going to judge here!) while others are made from scratch.
Though this dish is a definite diet-buster, you’ll find a few healthifed versions included to help make it a little more guilt-free. Enjoy!
Quick Tips For Success:
- Overcooked pasta is blah! Shave off a couple minutes than you normally would (when first boiling) so that once you take the finished dish out of the oven, it is spot-on and noodles are done just-right.
- Always cook the pasta in salted water even if the recipe doesn’t advise to do so, those noodles need it and adding salt afterwards just doesn’t give the same result.
- Is your favorite tried & true getting a bit boring? Jazz things up by sprinkling halved cherry tomatoes across the top before popping the dish in the oven…this gives a nice flavor burst. Or why not substitute part or all of the pasta with spiralized zucchini? Experiment by adding extra veggies, this is the easiest way to transform a tired casserole.
- Whether the instructions include this or not, try sprinkling a buttery bread crumb mixture over top during the last 5 to 7 minutes of cooking time, it really does add to the dish. The standard ratio is 1 part melted butter to 2 parts dried crumbs, a family size casserole would need about 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter (tweak as you like).
- If you prefer a crispy edge/top or a drier, less creamy casserole…remove the lid or covering and turn on the broiler for the last few minutes.
- Crowd-Pleasing: (this is my husband’s favorite) Includes Campbell’s Mushroom Soup, milk, frozen peas, medium egg noodles (cooked and drained), dry bread crumbs, melted butter. Campbell’s Kitchen.
- Rice Option: May also substitute with a can of salmon if you like. Basmati rice is used in this recipe instead of the usual pasta. Creamed corn, peas, broccoli florets, a small jar of pimentos. Looks interesting! A little crunch factor is provided by a panko crumb topping. Foodie Chicks Rule.
- Dill/Potato: Undercooking the pasta is key; it’s what ensures the casserole won’t be mushy after baking. And the potato chips add crunch to every bite in this nouveau recipe. Leeks, fresh mushrooms, white wine, white cheddar, thyme…this one’s a bit more decadent than the usual. Bon Appetit.
- Melt-Style: This takes the traditional tuna melt sandwich to a whole new level with this wonderful casserole. Large rigatoni, both Swiss & cheddar cheeses, tomatoes, broccoli florets, serves 6. Noshing With The Nolands.
- Mediterranean Style: Choose best-quality tuna that’s packed in olive oil for this dish. Even after draining it, you’ll get moister, richer results than if you used water-packed tuna. Red bell pepper strips, artichoke hearts, scallions and wide egg noodles. Martha Stewart.
- No Bake: Need a fast dinner? Try this mix-and-eat casserole. Shortcut ingredients get it to the table fast. Macaroni, containers of light semi-soft cheese (cucumber and dill or garlic and herb), frozen veggies. Better Homes And Gardens.
- Alfredo Sauce: Toss together purchased Alfredo sauce, canned tuna, seasoned croutons and frozen broccoli, and you’ll have a hearty casserole in a snap! Betty Crocker.
- Macaroni & Cheese: Budget friendly…a package of mac & cheese, condensed cream of celery soup, whole milk and shredded cheddar. Taste Of Home.
- Gourmet: Olive oil, penne or ziti, red onion, red pepper flakes, white wine, canned cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, juice & zest from lemons, parsley, fresh basil, capers and oregano. The Amateur Gourmet.
- Skillet: Not a fan of canned soup? We remedy this by making our own mushroom sauce with nonfat milk thickened with a bit of flour. Look for whole-wheat egg noodles–they have more fiber than regular (but this dish will work well and taste great with either). Eating Well.
- Lemon & Crushed Oyster Crackers: The buttery, garlicky oyster crackers were the perfect light and crunchy topping. They were so much more satisfying than the standard, crushed potato chips that usually adorn the top of a Casserole. Iowa Girl Eats.
- Farfalle: Ingredients include dry breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, bow-tie pasta, Alfredo sauce, green onions, frozen peas (thawed), dried oregano, grated lemon peel, fresh lemon juice. Epicurious.
- Southwestern: Ingredients include olive oil, chopped onion, frozen corn (thawed), cream of mushroom soup, tomato salsa, chili powder, whole wheat pasta and shredded cheddar. Oprah.com
- Light But Hearty: Serves 4, ingredients include uncooked yolk-free noodles, reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed mushroom soup, fat-free milk, reduced-fat mayonnaise, ground mustard, albacore white tuna in water, sliced mushrooms and chopped roasted sweet red pepper. Topping made with dry bread crumbs, melted butter, paprika, Italian seasoning and pepper. From Taste of Home.
- Healthier Version: Serves 6 to 8, made with whole wheat or rice penne pasta, unsalted butter, white button mushrooms, chopped garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, arrowroot, chicken stock, heavy cream, frozen peas (thawed) and grated cheddar. Topping made with whole wheat or gluten free sandwich bread and unsalted butter (melted). Healthy Green Kitchen.
- Noodley: Yields 6, ingredients include wide egg noodles, olive oil, chopped yellow onion, chopped carrot, all-purpose flour, fat-free milk, less-fat cream cheese (softened), Dijon mustard, frozen peas (thawed), grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and canned albacore tuna in water (drained and flaked). MyRecipes.