5 Cool New Ways to Make Tuna Casserole Special

Tuna casserole is a quick, easy and inexpensive meal that will satisfy a crowd. But some families make it so often that the meal gets boring after a while. The trick is to make simple changes in the ingredients, that will have a dramatic impact on the taste of the meal. The casserole will cook up the same, but your family will never know you used the same recipe.

My favourite tuna casserole recipe is very versatile, but it’s so quick and easy to throw together. Most of the ingredients are non-perishable foods that you can keep in your pantry for months, and just pull the casserole together when you need a quick meal. Check out the recipe, and try some of the awesome variations below.

5 New Dishes from One Tuna Casserole Recipe

Asparagus and Egg Casserole: Use cream of asparagus soup, and substitute 1 cup of thinly sliced asparagus instead of broccoli. Use your bread crumbs to create a savoury version of a “crumb crust” and put this into the bottom of your baking dish. Add a little of the cheese, then the noodle mixture, and top with the rest of the cheese. While the casserole is cooking, grill a few asparagus spears and poach one egg per person. Serve the casserole with an egg and a couple spears of asparagus on top.

Creamy Chicken Casserole: Substitute cream of chicken soup for the cream of celery, and make the casserole with broad egg noodles. Use flakes of chicken, or leftover diced chicken instead of the tuna. Add diced carrots and potatoes, and green peas, instead of the broccoli.

Ham and Cheese Casserole: Use flakes of ham, or leftover diced ham, with a cream of mushroom soup. Use half cheddar and half Swiss cheese, and add 1/2 cup of shredded greens or spinach to the casserole.

Mozza-burger Casserole with Mushrooms: Make the casserole with about a pound of sauteed ground beef instead of canned meat, and use cream of mushroom soup. Swap out the broccoli for some freshly sliced mushrooms and diced bell pepper, and use mozzarella cheese instead of cheddar.

Vegetarian Pasta Casserole: Omit the tuna from your recipe, and use a vegetable-based soup to make the sauce. This is safe for vegetarians who eat cheese and other dairy foods. Any vegetables can be used, so get creative! This dish is similar to a lasagna in some ways, so remember even leafy greens like spinach or kale can find their place in a casserole.

Make tuna casserole without the fish! 5 great dinner ideas for updating an old fashioned recipe | #pasta #30minutemeals
Which is your favourite fish-free way to use your tuna casserole recipe?
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(Image from a public domain photo by Romi)

 

Original content © 2015, 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne, adapted from content I published on Seraphic Insights in June 2015

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

 

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How to Make Comfort Food: Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is one of my favourite comfort foods. It’s a meat-based pie with a mashed potato topping instead of a crust. In Quebec, where I lived for a good part of my life, it starts with a bottom layer of ground beef and a healthy amount of creamed corn.

In Quebec French, the dish is called “pâté chinois” – literally “Chinese pie.” In Scotland, where it probably originated in the 18th century or so, the meat would have been chunks of mutton or lamb – otherwise it would be called “cottage pie.” No matter what you call it or what ingredients are used, it’s good, honest peasant food.

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

This recipe is an adaptation of the shepherd’s pie that a friend’s mother used to make. The carrots give colour and extra nutrients to the dish and make it just a little sweet.

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped finely
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4-6 carrots, sliced into discs and boiled until just barely tender*
5-6 potatoes, mashed with butter and milk
1 400 ml can (about 14 oz) creamed corn
1-1/2 cups frozen corn
a few pats of butter to dot the top
salt and pepper, or paprika to season the crust

* Save the water from boiling your carrots to make your own broth!

Method:

1) Brown the beef with the onion and Worcestershire sauce, breaking it up into fine bits.

2) Place the meat in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan, pressing down lightly. If you plan on freezing this dish, use either a baking dish that has a snap-on lid, or a foil pan with a lid. Label the pan with the name of the dish, instructions, and the date. The pie should be eaten within 2-3 months.

3) Layer the carrots on top of the meat. (When you drain them, you can reserve the cooking liquid for making broth.)

4) Mix the two types of corn in a bowl and then spread the corn on top of the carrots.

5) Spread the mashed potatoes over the whole dish. Dust with a little salt and pepper, or some paprika. If you are preparing the casserole for eating right away, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC, or gas mark 6) and dot the casserole with a little butter. If you aren’t going to serve right away, cover tightly and freeze or refrigerate.

6) Place the baking dish in a hot oven with a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes. Broil for a few minutes if necessary to brown. If the pie has been in the freezer, thaw for 1-2 days in the fridge before baking.

Serves six generously.

 

Shepherd's pie is an easy, affordable family meal that you can make ahead - 24 Carrot Diet

Healthier Options:

  1. Replace the ground beef with leftover lean meat, or buy ground turkey or chicken if that’s affordable where you live;
  2. Add a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli to boost the antioxidant content of this casserole;
  3. Opt for mashed sweet potato instead of regular mashed potatoes to boost the vitamin A content of your dinner;
  4. Replace the mashed potato with mashed cauliflower – this will reduce the overall carbs and calories and significantly boost the vitamin C content of your shepherd’s pie;
  5. For the feel of mashed potato with a huge fibre boost and added protein, cook up some giant Lima beans with a little garlic and mash them for your topping.

Corn is a high-fibre, whole grain source of protein
Don’t let anyone tell you corn is not healthy
( Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user paulmerino)

Nutrition and Corn

With all the flap over high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified corn, this vegetable isn’t exactly the first one that comes to mind when thinking of healthy foods. At more than 600 calories per cup, corn is also not a low-calorie vegetable. But if you enjoy eating corn, please don’t eliminate it completely from your diet. You just want to enjoy it in moderation and keep in mind the higher calorie count, compared to other vegetables.

Yellow corn is a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are associated with eye health. The American Optometric Association says these antioxidants are linked to a reduced risk of some chronic eye diseases, including cataracts and macular degeneration.

You may have been told that corn is essentially an empty-calorie food, but this is simply not true. One cup of yellow corn supplies more iron than the same amount of steak and about two-thirds the protein – with only half the fat and no cholesterol. Corn is also a source of vitamin A. Plus it supplies roughly half the vitamin B6, magnesium, and fibre you need for a whole day.

So splurge a little from time to time! Buy your corn from a local farmer who grows organic or GMO-free corn, if you can. And try to balance the calorie count for the rest of your day when you indulge in corn. But don’t write it off completely. It is still part of a healthy, balanced diet.

 

Shepherd's pie is a low-budget comfort food that supplies a surprising amount of nutrients. This recipe from 24 Carrot Diet includes low-carb options too.
Shepherd’s pie is a great way to use up leftovers – in fact, you can plan it that way!
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Original content © 2009-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

Graphics adapted from a photo by cyclonebill/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

This recipe was originally published by me on Bubblews, and was inspired by an earlier article I wrote for the now defunct Yahoo Voices site.

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

How to Make the Best Carrot and Cauliflower Soup

 

Best Carrot and Cauliflower Soup (Image modified from photo by Jules/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

 

 

I was looking for a soup recipe that used Lima beans, and I came upon this soup I created a few years ago. This simple soup recipe is a wonderful meatless meal for a hot summer day, but it’s also hearty enough to be replace a meat stew once the weather turns cold. The carrots and cauliflower supply vitamins A, C and K, along with several of the B vitamins.

Carrot and cauliflower soup has a buttery smooth texture and a sweet taste, which will make it a hit with kids. The low glycemic index means you can serve it at suppertime, and your family won’t be starving again come bedtime. This soup recipe is gluten-free, and because it’s made with vegetable stock it’s suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. It supplies important minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and other micronutrients, and dietary fibre. To increase the omega-3 content of this meal, saute some chopped leek and add it to the broth while you’re cooking the beans. Or sprinkle some chopped walnut or freshly ground flax seed over the soup just before serving.

Carrot and Cauliflower Soup

8 cups vegetable stock*

1-1/2 cups dried large Lima beans (butter beans)

4-6 carrots, peeled and diced

1/2 cauliflower, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

* If you don’t have a ready supply of vegetable stock, save the cooking liquid when you boil or steam veggies, and freeze it in Mason jars until you need it. Or you can learn to make your own soup stocks and broths at home.

Directions:

While the broth is coming to a boil in a stockpot, sift through the beans to remove any that are discoloured or chipped. Once the beans are well sorted, they can be added to the boiling stock.

Let the beans boil on medium-high heat about 20 minutes, stirring often. Lower the heat and allow the beans to continue simmering another 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the carrots and cauliflower, and bring the soup back up to a boil. Stir well. Reduce to a simmer and cook another 30 minutes, or until beans and vegetables are tender. Serve with thick slabs of crusty bread.

This recipe makes enough soup for a family of 4-6. If you have a smaller family, go ahead and make the full recipe. It’s a perfect gluten-free substitute for a sandwich at lunchtime, so warm a little up in the morning and pack it in a thermos for your kids’ lunchboxes. It will help your kids avoid that mid-afternoon blood sugar low that turns them into starving Marvins by the time they get home in the afternoon!

 

Featured Image Credit: Carrots and cauliflower by ericbauer0/Pixabay (CC0 1.0)

 

Note: This recipe was originally published by me on the now defunct site Bubblews, in August 2014