If you enjoy the taste of classic tuna noodle casserole, but are trying to eat healthier, then you will love this Modern Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe. It is an updated version of the iconic dish that was extremely popular in the 1950’s and is still made today in many homes.
The original dish was made with inexpensive ingredients including canned tuna, noodles and cream of mushroom soup. Beyond popular belief, this recipe originated in the Pacific Northwest in the 1930’s where tuna was readily available.
However, it wasn’t until after WWII that the budget friendly dish became widely popular around the country. Then it made a resurgence in popularity in 2012 when a magazine article, focusing on classic comfort food recipes, made a viral run on social media.
Although this recipe incorporates some of these classic ingredients, it also has several others that will make this recipe even more delicious. Not to mention, without canned cream of mushroom soup and with the addition of fresh vegetables, it is much healthier as well.
Therefore, next time when you are craving a comfort food meal, or looking for something different to make on Friday during the Lent season, grab this recipe and give it a try!
I can almost guarantee that this light and refreshing meal will become one of your go to recipes that you will make over and over again.
Modern Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe
*Specific measurements and complete recipe instructions are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to continue to read the tips and tricks to making this recipe below.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Shredded carrots
- Onion, chopped
- Sweet red pepper, chopped
- Sliced baby portobello mushrooms
- Albacore white tuna in water, drained and flaked
- Fresh baby spinach
- Frozen peas
- Uncooked spiral pasta
- All-purpose flour
- Reduced-sodium chicken broth
- Half-and-half cream
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dijon mustard
- Chili powder
- Shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt and ground black pepper
The first step in making this Modern Tuna Noodle Casserole is to cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente minus 1 minute. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven and become nice and tender when served.
After the pasta is done cooking, reserve 1 cup of pasta water by ladling it in a bowl. Then drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Set the bowl aside while you cook the vegetables.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then add the shredded carrots, diced onion, red pepper and mushrooms. Cook and stir until the vegetables become tender, approximately 7-8 minutes.
When the vegetables are nice and tender, add the drained and flaked tuna. Then add the baby spinach and peas to the skillet and cook until the spinach is just wilted, approximately 3 minutes.
Once the spinach is wilted transfer the mixture to a large bowl with the pasta. Toss the vegetable and tuna mixture with the pasta until well incorporated and set aside.
Make The Sauce
Wipe the same skillet clean and then melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and continue to whisk until smooth.
Then gradually whisk in the broth, half and half, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and Dijon mustard. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
Cook until the mixture becomes thickened, adding more pasta water if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the pasta/tuna mixture and toss. Then pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to coat one more time. The Modern Tuna Noodle Casserole is ready to serve!
Pour the tuna noodle casserole in a sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese and/or Panko breadcrumbs. Then bake in a preheated oven set at 350°F for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Remove the pan from the oven and serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I omit the peas?
Although traditional and this modern tuna noodle casserole includes peas as one of the ingredients, you can definitely leave them out if you aren’t a pea lover. In fact, you can add or omit any vegetables that you prefer.
2. How do I store leftovers?
If you have any leftovers, store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes on high power. Or reheat a serving of leftovers in a skillet with 1 teaspoon of water added to the pan.
3. How do I make this recipe Dairy-Free?
It is easy to make this recipe dairy-free. Use plant based butter and plant based milk instead of their dairy counterparts. Then use either nutritional yeast or grated cashew cheese in place of the Parmesan cheese.
4. Can I make this recipe Gluten-Free?
It is easy to make this Modern Tuna Noodle Casserole gluten free by using a gluten free flour and gluten free noodles. Just be sure to follow the package instructions for cooking the noodles to al’ dente consistency minus 1 minute.
5. Can I use chicken instead of tuna?
If you are not a tuna fan or have extra rotisserie chicken leftover, you can use the cooked shredded chicken in place of the tuna. In fact, you can use any cooked protein that you prefer. Or how about turning our Instant Pot Turkey Noodle Casserole into something healthier and delicious by making it ‘modern style’.
Now that you know how to make this delicious recipe, head to the kitchen to get started. Or save or print the recipe below so that you have it on hand whenever you need a quick and easy dinner recipe.
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- 3 cups uncooked spiral pasta
- 1 tablespoon. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium sweet red pepper, diced
- 1 cup sliced baby portobello mushrooms
- 2 cans (5 ounces each) albacore white tuna in water, drained and flaked
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup chicken broth, reduced-sodium
- 1/3 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente minus 1 minute. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking heat olive in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, red pepper and mushrooms. Cook and stir until tender, 7-8 minutes.
- Add tuna, spinach and peas to the skillet and cook until spinach is just wilted, approximately 3 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the pasta and tuna/vegetable mixture; toss to combine.
- Wipe the same skillet clean and then melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in broth, cream, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and Dijon mustard. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened, adding more pasta water if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the pasta/tuna mixture and toss. Then pour the liquid mixture over the pasta and toss to coat.
- Optional Step: Pour the tuna noodle casserole in a sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese and bake in a preheated oven set at 350°F (175°C) for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Recipe provided by Make Your Meals
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 335Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 668mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 24g
Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.