Like every good Midwestern girl, I love a good casserole. Since I moved to the PNW, I find myself craving a yummy home-made hot dish from time to time. And contrary to popular belief you do not have to use canned soup to make a delicious casserole. Since casseroles are meant to be layered with ooey-gooey goodness, I don’t skimp on the sauce I just opt for a healthier, lighter version.
PAUSE. Did she just say “healthier” and “casserole”.
I know you might be thinking it isn’t possible, but believe me it is. Andrew even gave me the highest praise tonight, he said “it tastes just like my grandma’s used to.” I know the title says “Better Than Grandma’s Tuna Casserole,” but that’s because this version tastes as good as you remember from your childhood AND it doesn’t have as much of the fat. Winner winner chicken dinner. Well not quite chicken, unless you’re Jessica Simpson (bad pop culture joke).
Don’t get me wrong, I still add a little mayo and cheese to my casserole, but I substitute non-fat greek yogurt for most of the mayo and the canned soup. Instead of regular pasta, I substitute whole-wheat and load up the tuna and peas.
This casserole even has the crunchy texture component that is MUST HAVE in any delicious hot dish. Panko bread crumbs have more “umph” than regular bread crumbs so they become a nice crispy topping to contrast the melted cheese and savory tuna-pasta mixture.
Seriously, if you love tuna casserole, your belly will be happy after a serving or two of this bad boy. You don’t even have to feel guilty about that second helping ;)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
1/2 lb whole wheat fusilli pasta
2 cans of tuna in water (5 oz each), drained
1/2 C red onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 C non-fat greek yogurt
1/4 C reduced-fat mayo
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t red pepper flakes
salt and cracked pepper to taste
1 1/2 C frozen peas, thawed
1/2 C extra sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 C parmesan, grated
1/3 C panko bread crumbs (can substitute regular bread crumbs)
Cooking spray (I use coconut oil cooking spray)
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Bring water for pasta to a boil. Season water with salt.
- Add the fusilli to the boiling water and cook until pasta is al dente (follow the instructions on the package).
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large mixing bowl combine tuna, lemon juice, greek yogurt, mayo, onion, and seasonings.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain using a colander. Add the pasta to the tuna mixture and mix well using a spatula until fusilli are covered. (Note: the pasta mixture is not meant to look “wet”, but you can add a bit more mayo or greek yogurt if there is not enough sauce to cover the pasta).
- Fold the peas into the tuna-pasta mixture, taking care not smash the peas in the process.
- Transfer the pasta salad into the baking dish and spread evenly. Top with cheese and panko bread crumbs.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, lightly spray the top of the casserole with cooking spray. (Note: the cooking spray will help the panko bread crumbs get golden)
- Change the oven setting to broil. Return casserole into oven and broil for 5-10 minutes until top of casserole is golden brown. Serve immediately.