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Vegan Tuna Noodle Casserole, vegan, vegetarian, whole food plant based, gluten free, recipe, wfpb, healthy, oil free, no refined sugar, no oil, refined sugar free, dinner, side, side dish, dairy free, dinner party, entertaining

Vegan “Tuna” Noodle Casserole

  • Author: Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Comfort food at its finest, this warm and deliciously creamy Vegan “Tuna” Noodle Casserole is a classic remake.  Packed with healthy vegetables, tasty noodles, and a flavorful sauce, it is sure to be a new family favorite.  A fabulous Whole Food Plant Based recipe. Vegan, oil free, sugar free, gluten free, no highly processed ingredients.


Ingredients

Scale

Cream Base

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews *
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain plant milk *

Mushrooms

  • 8 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon tamari *
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable broth *

Vegetable Base

  • 1 medium yellow onion, fine dice
  • 2 celery ribs, fine dice
  • 1 carrot, fine dice
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves *
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour (of choice)
  • 2 cups water (or broth)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth*
  • 1 Tablespoon freeze dried shallots *
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (+/-) *
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper (+/-)

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1 – [ 16 oz. bag ] frozen Classic Mixed Vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, carrots)
  • 1 – [ 14.4 oz. bag ] frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets
  • 9 oz. pasta (of choice)  *
  • 1 or 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs (Optional) *

Optional: Gluten Free -Whole Food Plant Based Bread Crumbs – Ingredients

  • One Basic Quinoa Flatbread – baked to super crisp (see recipe here)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

Cream Base Instructions:

  1. Blend the plant milk & cashews (discard soaking water) together until very smooth. Set aside.  (See Notes on quick soak)

Mushrooms Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms and sauté until the liquid evaporates (about 3 minutes). Add 1 Tablespoon of vegetable broth to prevent sticking (only if needed).
  2. Now add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and tamari. Sauté until the mushrooms are tender & lightly browned. About 2-4 minutes. Remove mushrooms and set aside.

Casserole Base Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Add cold water to a large stockpot and heat until boiling. This is for boiling the pasta.
  3. In the meantime, while waiting for the pasta water to boil, in a large ceramic/enamel lined Dutch oven, skillet or nonstick skillet, add the onions, carrots, and celery, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic & thyme. Sauté about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. (If needed to prevent sticking, add 1 Tablespoon of vegetable broth).
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the cooked vegetables, and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the vegetable broth and water, then add the sweet paprika, freeze dried shallots, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and sea salt. Stir well to incorporate the flour into the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Take an immersion blender and blend everything until very smooth and creamy. If the immersion blender doesn’t work well enough, transfer to a high-speed food processor or blender, then return to the Dutch oven/skillet.
  7. Add the pasta to the boiling pasta water. Watch the pasta carefully. If you are concerned, wait until the end to boil the pasta. (See Notes)
  8. Turn heat to medium low and slowly stir in cashew cream. Cook for a few minutes.
  9. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed.
  10. Increase the heat, then add the frozen vegetables* into the casserole mixture, cook for 3 to 4 minutes to thoroughly heat through.
  11. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms.
  12. When the pasta tenderness reaches right before the al dente stage, stop the cooking process*, drain off the water, shake well to remove any excess water, then add to the casserole mixture.
  13. Stir well to incorporate, then transfer the entire mixture into a 10 x 13 casserole dish or similar sized dish that can hold the mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 F.
  14. After 25 minutes, remove from the oven, reduce the heat to 350F, remove the foil, sprinkle with several  Tablespoons of bread crumbs (+/-) and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  15. After 5 minutes, remove from the oven, allow to sit for 7 to 10 minutes before serving.
  16. Enjoy!

Optional: Gluten Free -Whole Food Plant Based Bread Crumbs – Instructions

  1. Place the already baked “Basic Quinoa Flatbread” into a 400 F oven to crisp up and dry out. This takes approx. 5 minutes at 400 F.  Remove from the oven and break off a piece.  If it is super crisp and crumbling apart, you can use it for the breadcrumbs.
  2. Break up the quinoa flatbread and put it into a high-speed blender with the other ingredients. Blend on high until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle one or two Tablespoons on top of the casserole. NOTE: This makes approx. ¾ cups of bread crumbs.  Reserve or freeze the rest for use later with other recipes.
  4. NOTE: If you do not require gluten free bread crumbs, you can toast any compliant bread in the oven until very dried out, then quickly pulse in a food processor until it resembles bread crumbs. Adjust the other seasonings accordingly as the seasonings are based upon one basic quinoa flatbread.

Notes

*Cashews:  To speed up the soaking time for cashews:  Place the cashews in a small bowl and cover with boiling water, cover 20 minutes, until softened.  Use a high-speed blender or food processor to ensure a creamy, smooth texture.

*Amount of Unsweetened Plain Plant Based Milk and Cashews:  The amount of plant based milk and cashews can be increased if you plan to use more than 9 oz. of pasta.  Increase to ½ cup cashews and 2 cups plant milk.  You will also need to add slightly more seasonings.  We used a good amount of frozen vegetables in our casserole to reduce the amount of pasta.

*Vegetable Broth:  We used Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock because it does not have MSG, and has no highly processed ingredients; however, Pacific has a very strong flavor so our water to broth ratio is heavy on the water and low on the vegetable broth.  If you are using a vegetable broth other than Pacific, please adjust the water to broth ratio accordingly.

*Freeze dried shallots:  Freeze dried shallots are an excellent way to add some extra flavor to your dishes.  We love them.

*Frozen vegetables:  You can use fresh vegetables, but if you do make sure you cook them before adding to the mixture.  Frozen vegetables actually works best for this recipe.  The only downside is that in order to gain consistency on the size of the cauliflower and broccoli pieces, you may have to scoop a few up on a spoon and manually cut them while they are cooking in the mixture.  You totally do not have to do this, but some of the frozen cauliflower florets were huge and it really bothered me to see these big cauliflower florets in my casserole so I scooped them up after they cooked on a spoon and cut them down with a sharp knife and dropped them back down into my casserole mixture.

*Pasta: We used the 9-oz. package of Delallo Gluten Free Lasagna noodles.  We cooked them for 4 minutes, then removed them from the boiling water, ran them quickly under cold water, then stacked them and sliced them into one inch pieces.  This is extra work, but we loved the outcome. We did this because we couldn’t find a gluten free pappardelle pasta in any of our local stores.  You can totally avoid all of this by using any Whole Food Plant Based compliant pasta.  I would recommend using a WFPB compliant fettuccini or pappardelle pasta to mimic the noodles used traditionally in this type of casserole.

*Pasta Cooking Time:  You will want to cook the pasta to right before the al dente stage as the pasta will continue to cook in the casserole dish.

*Thyme Leaves: We use Penzeys French Thyme.  It has amazing flavor.  Please note that dried crushed thyme leaves is not the same as ground thyme. You can use either in this recipe.  We used dried crushed thyme leaves, so if you are using ground thyme, scale back a little more than half of the amount used, and check for flavor. Adjust as preferred.

*Sea Salt:  Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.

*Bread Crumbs:  You can use any bread crumbs you like.  We provided a WFPB Gluten Free recipe for bread crumbs.