My Garden Vegetable Tuna Casserole is a family favorite! I’ve blogged now for over a year and I realized the other day, when making my Crunchy Tuna Salad, that I’d not made Garden Vegetable Tuna Casserole in over a year! Imagine that – not making a family favorite in over a year!
We’ll start with a confession – my Garden Vegetable Tuna Casserole is somewhat labor intensive. So, when I make it, I make a lot! This time, I tripled the recipe and gave a casserole to my neighbor for her family of seven, gave a small version to my brother-in-law who absolutely loves this casserole and made a tiny one for my mother.
When I told my mom that I was making this casserole, she said “please save me a piece!” Well, she’s in skilled nursing recovering from a bad fall (see Senior Advocacy: What Adult Children Can Do to Help Their Aging Parents) and it will be several weeks before she is well enough to go home. In the meantime, her mini-casserole is in the freezer.
Yes, this casserole freezes beautifully! So, my recommendations are (1) make this casserole because it is yummy and (2) make enough to freeze for another meal or two!
Plus, unbelievably, this casserole is kid-friendly. I have lots of nieces and nephews of various ages and each one of them, without exception, loves this casserole. And, it’s a good way to add more vegetables to your diet!
Four items of caution:
- If you make my Garden Vegetable Tuna Casserole with frozen vegetables (other than corn), it will not be as delicious. Plus, you will not have the added “crunch factor” from the large-size veggie pieces that are cooked al dente’.
- This version is “lightened-up” because I’m on a diet. You can use full-fat versions of the soup, mayonnaise and cheese and will have a much richer casserole. But, you will also have extra fat and calories. This lighter version is STILL absolutely delicious and unless you tell your family and/or guests, they will not know the difference!
- All of the vegetable choices are “optional”. However, leaving one or more out will alter the taste of the dish. You can substitute veggies and “make it your own”, but each one of the veggies I’ve added is “time-tested” for many years and adds to the overall deliciousness of this casserole.
- You can substitute the tuna for chicken. BUT, and this is a big BUT, it will NOT test the same. With chicken, it just isn’t as good!
I took a lot of photos and then I couldn’t decide which ones to use! So, I’ve used several! Hopefully, readers will find them Pin-worthy and pin them to Pinterest! You’ll notice, by the shadows, that I took these photos at night! This is an ongoing dilemma for me as a “food blogger” because I make dinner and we eat dinner! I don’t make dinner in the morning or early afternoon for us to eat dinner 5 to 8 hours later! So, until I learn more about how to manage artificial lighting with photography, shadows will be a factor!
Here’s what you do:
Chose your mixing bowl. On the left in the photo above is a normal size mixing bowl. On the right is my super-duper bowl that I use for mixing tuna casserole, although in reality, it is a commercial restaurant service salad bowl! 24 years ago, Charlie and I “catered” our own wedding and I purchased some supplies from a restaurant supply store. This is the one remaining bowl I have left from our wedding, as the rest burned up in the fire! This one was not in our house, but in our storage shed.
Anyway, I use a super-duper large bowl, because I always at least double this recipe. Using a large bowl makes mixing the casserole easier as you make it.
Start by chopping your vegetables. Sometimes, Charlie will be my sous chef, but most of the time, I’m making this casserole by myself. If you want to chop your carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and steam them together, you can. But, since I chop each one at a time, when I’m finished, I place it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave them while I’m chopping the next vegetable.
Wash, peel and slice carrots. I like to cut mine on the diagonal, but then I ended up halving them again because I thought the pieces were a little too big. Don’t make the slices too thin. You want to be able to taste the delicious carrot!
Place in microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high until carrots are not quite fork-tender. You want them to have a little “bite” to them. In my microwave, it takes 5 minutes to get the desired doneness. But, my microwave is very low-powered (just a little tiny microwave; mainly used for reheating!), so if you have a normal microwave, test your veggies after a minute or two!
Head of broccoli.
In the meantime, wash your broccoli and cut into bite-size florets.
Head of cauliflower.
Wash and trim your cauliflower and cut into bite-size florets.
Add one cup of frozen corn to your large mixing bowl and let it defrost at room temperature.
Once the carrots are done in the microwave, remove them, drain them and add them to your mixing bowl. Then, repeat the microwave process with the broccoli and cauliflower OR steam all together on the stove top with a steamer basket.
IMPORTANT: Do not overcook your vegetables. You want them bright and al dente’.
In the meantime, start working on the vegetables that you will be sautéing instead of steaming:
Start by chopping and sautéing your vegetables as you go.
- Small yellow onion.
- Chopped yellow onion.
- Yellow onion sautéing in 1 tablespoons olive oil.
- Mini-bell peppers – I use these because I buy a big bag at Costco. But you can substitute a bell pepper in your choice of color: red, yellow, orange or green.
- Chopped mini-bell peppers.
- Add the bell peppers to the sautéing onions and continue to sauté.
- 2 small zucchini or you can use one large one.
- Sliced zucchini – don’t slice too thin. These are sliced about a half-inch.
- Add zucchini to other veggies and continue to sauté.
- Slice mushrooms. Again, don’t slice or make the pieces too small. Part of the deliciousness of this casserole is tasting all the different chunks of vegetables!
- Add mushrooms to other veggies in the skillet and continue to sauté.
- Add sautéed veggie mixture to steamed veggie mixture in large mixing bowl.
I use black olives in this casserole. About 1/2 to 1/3 of a 6 ounce can.
I drain them and slice them in half. Why don’t I buy pre-sliced black olives? Because I think they are sliced too thinly for this casserole. Remember: this casserole is all about getting the taste of every single component of the casserole.
I stir all the vegetables around in the big bowl to mix them all up before adding the remaining ingredients.
Open your can(s) of tuna and drain well. Add them to the veggie mixture in your large bowl and stir to combine, breaking up any big chunks of tuna.
- While you are preparing all the vegetables, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt and once the water is at a rolling boil, add your noodles. Cook noodles per package directions and once cooked, drain immediately. I have this large pasta pot with a basket that makes this job easy!
- In the meantime, add a can of cream of mushroom soup to the veggies and stir to combine.
- Then add light mayonnaise and stir to combine.
- Then add drained noodles and stir to combine.
- Well-mixed ingredients! I do each of these steps separately so that the soup and mayonnaise is well-distributed throughout the casserole.
- Spoon into a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
- Add 2 cups of grated cheese.
- Cover casserole loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour. After one hour, test for doneness: I insert a dinner knife into the center of the casserole and remove it. Then, I touch the knife where in was inserted and if it’s not hot to the touch, I leave the casserole in the oven for another 15 minutes.
Out of the oven and ready to eat!
A close-up of deliciousness!
And another one for Pinterest!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup carrots, washed, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup broccoli, washed, trimmed and cut into florets
- 1 cup cauliflower, washed, trimmed and cut into florets
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 mini bell peppers or 1 bell pepper in your choice of color: red, yellow, orange or green, washed, seeded and chopped
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini, washed, cut in half and then cut into ½ inch chunks
- 1 cup of mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 3 ounces whole black olive, drained and cut in half
- 3 - 5 ounce cans of water-packed tuna, drained
- 6 ounces whole grain extra-wide noodles
- 1 - 10¾ ounce can of Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
- ½ cup of light mayonnaise
- 2 cups of reduced fat (2% milk) shredded four cheese blend
- Place a large pot of water on the stove (preferably with a pasta strainer) and bring to a boil on high.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to boiling water.
- Add extra-wide noodles to boiling water and cook per package directions.
- Once cooked, drain noodles from water and allow to cool while your prepare everything else.
- Place frozen corn in large mixing bowl.
- Prepare carrots, broccoli and cauliflower per above and steam on the stovetop in a steamer basket or cook in the microwave until not quite fork-tender.
- Drain and add steamed veggies to frozen corn in mixing bowl.
- In the meantime, prepare the onion, peppers, zucchini and mushrooms per above.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to large skillet.
- Add onions and sauté until translucent.
- Add bell peppers and sauté until tender.
- Add zucchini and sauté until tender.
- Add mushrooms and sauté until tender.
- Add sautéed veggies to steamed veggies in large mixing bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add olives and mix veggies together until well combined.
- Add tuna and mix until well combined.
- Add cream of mushroom soup and combine.
- Add light mayo and combine.
- Add cooled noodles and mix well.
- Spoon into 9" x 13" baking dish.
- Cover with cheese.
- Loosely cover with aluminum foil (you don't want the cheese to stick to the foil, so "tent" it).
- Bake for 1 hour and test for doneness by inserting knife in center and checking whether it is hot or cold.
- If knife is cold, cook for another 15 minutes.
If you made a second casserole to freeze and reheat on another day, defrost it in the refrigerator for several days and then cook per the recipe above. Hope you enjoy this delicious casserole!
This recipe is featured on All Free Casserole Recipes’ site! Check it out: Garden Vegetable Tuna Casserole.