A savoury and cheesy tuna casserole that’s guilt-free and low fat.
Casseroles are the ultimate make-ahead dinner. You can prep them the day before and come home to a delicious, homemade dinner that only needs a short time in the oven.
When I first starting thinking about this recipe I was looking for a healthier alternative to the traditional tuna casserole I grew up with. I needed to find a way to replicate the rich taste of the butter and the creamy taste of the cheese without all the fat. A combination of soy sauce, milk, and flour replaced the butter. While the Dijon mustard and Italian bread crumbs are a substitute for the cheese. The best part is that Italian bread crumbs have some cheese in it, so the flavour is there, but without all the calories and high fat.
Now this casserole has a bit of a funny story. When I first started planning this recipe there was one specific ingredient that was missing – cinnamon. I know what you’re thinking, cinnamon in a tuna casserole? It was a happy accident, I swear. And this is how it happened.
While I was adding the spice into the sauce, my daughter also wanted to play. For obvious reasons, I was a little distracted when I was adding the spice. I accidentally grabbed cinnamon instead of paprika. They are in identical packages and actually look pretty similar.
“Mmm, something smells delicious,” I thought before realizing my mistake.
At that point I knew there was no turning back. Dinner was almost finished, my husband would be home soon, and we were all getting hungry. I decided to go with it. How bad could it be? I added the paprika, as planned, and silently promised myself that I wouldn’t tell anyone. (Except anyone reading this!)
I finished the dish, put it in the oven, and hoped that no one would notice. Boy was I wrong. Cinnamon is a loud and proud spice. You could smell it in the kitchen. You could smell it upstairs. You could smell it the second you walk through the front door.
“Something smells really good. Are you making dessert?” my husband asked when he got home.
I brushed off the question, hoping that the casserole wouldn’t taste like some overly sweet, candied fish dish. But my husband was right about something, the cinnamon managed to hide the (sometimes unpleasant) aroma of tuna. And it surprisingly tasted pretty amazing too.
The cinnamon added a depth of flavour to the casserole that is so often missing. I am now a converted cinnamon tuna casserole fan. I will never go back to making it the traditional way.
Healthy Tuna Casserole
This healthier tuna casserole will have your family asking for seconds. It will leave your house smelling great, but it tastes even better on the plate. Cinnamon and tuna – it actually works!
- 2 cans tuna, drained
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 8 ounces macaroni
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon parsley, dried
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Prepare baking dish with a quick spray of cooking oil. Cook pasta al dente, according to package instructions.
- Heat oil in pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes before adding mushrooms. When vegetables are tender add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce before removing from heat.
- In a saucepan whisk together remaining soy sauce, vegetable broth, milk, and Dijon mustard. Slowly add flour over a low heat. Add vegetables and tuna, season with salt, pepper, paprika, and parsley.
- Add drained pasta to the baking dish. Gently stir in mushroom sauce and tuna.
- Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for another 5 to 6 minutes or until the top is browned and crispy.
If you love casserole dinners, you may also enjoy Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese
If you love tuna, you may also enjoy Leftover Tuna Salad Patties
Do you love tuna casserole? How you tried it with cinnamon? What’s your favourite casserole dish?