Tuna Casserole: King of Comfort Food

February 28, 2013 Updated: February 28, 2013
Tuna Casserole: King of Comfort Food
Healthy gluten-free tuna casserole. (Cat Rooney/The Epoch Times)

Tuna casserole is a favourite comfort food for all ages. This king of comfort is an easy-to-make meal consisting of canned tuna, soup, peas, onions and celery, and pasta which are baked together.

For those switching to a gluten-free diet, achieving the taste and texture of a traditional tuna casserole can be a challenge. Gluten pasta is made from such grains as wheat, bulgur, barley, rye, semolina, spelt, frumento, and durum. Canned soup is usually thickened with flour, which is a gluten product.

Gluten-free pasta does not translate to having the same flavour, hardy texture, or cooked presence as gluten grain pasta does. It becomes mushy and breaks apart if over-boiled, and some kinds break down when baked after being boiled. Gluten-free pastas have their own unique tastes.

A trial and error process experimenting with gluten-free products can be disappointing at first when the end results are not the same as what we’re used to. It can be rewarding too, however, once acceptable tastes and textures are found.

Tuna Casserole: King of Comfort Food
Gluten-free pastas have their own unique taste. (Cat Rooney/The Epoch Times)

The different choices of gluten-free pasta can be overwhelming when wondering which type will match my taste buds. As with any modification of a diet when a major ingredient is taken out (wheat, milk, soy, sugar, and corn), there is no easy substitute with regard to taste and how it effects the overall texture and quality of the dish being made.

Often a new flavour and consistency have to be mentally accepted—in other words, an acquired taste needs to be achieved. Then it can become a yummy food.

With more people wanting gluten-free, grocery stores are stocking these products, or are more willing to order them upon request. Products are becoming more diverse and mainstream to meet the needs of a larger consumer base.

This recipe was selected for those just starting a gluten-free diet as it is fairly close in taste to mom’s recipe for tuna casserole when using the brand-name products listed. However, it still may require several meals before an acquired taste happens, resulting in a gluten-free recipe becoming the family tradition.

King of Comfort Gluten-Free Tuna Casserole

175 g (6 oz) Organic Gluten Free *bionature Spaghetti made with rice, potato, and soy (see note below)
125 to 250 mL (1/2 to 1 cup) chopped onions
250 mL (1 cup) chopped celery (about 3 medium stalks)
1 can All Natural Gluten Free Café from *Health Valley Cream of Mushroom Soup (new)
1 can tuna, in water (drained or not drained is fine)
125 mL (1/2 cup) milk, soymilk, or rice milk
250 mL (1 cup) frozen peas (straight from the freezer)
Dash pepper for seasoning
(1/2 tbsp) olive oil for sautéing
16 potato chips (read labels;*Lay’s has a gluten-free certified potato chip)

Pre-heat oven to 190º C (375º F)
Break spaghetti pasta in half and cook as instructed on the box. (Never over-boil gluten-free pasta and follow box instructions such as not rinsing and frequently stirring as gluten-free noodles will clump together).

Strain pasta and let it slightly cool. Sauté onions and celery in olive oil until onions are clear. Except for the potato chips, mix remaining ingredients together in a medium-size bowl. Gently mix in pasta (it may become clumpy as it cools, so separate it while mixing).

Place in a glass baking dish, approximately 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8-in). Cook for 20 minutes and then remove from the oven. Place crumbled-up potato chips on top. Cook another 10 minutes (liquid should be bubbling).

NOTE: These brands may not be available at your local health food store. Choose an equivalent brand.

Makes 6 Servings. Calories/serving:204 Total Fat:5.3g Cholesterol:10mg Sodium:346mg Total Carbohydrat:31g Dietary Fiber:2.7g Sugar:2g Protein:7.3g

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