One of my favorite recipes as a kid and now is my Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole. Creamy, savory, cheesy… Can’t get much more comforting. It was a regular dish that we had. Now with being plant based Tuna Noodle Casserole was one of those things I had to figure out how to veganize and try to make it healthy – HA!
So my first attempt was with garbanzo beans and I pulsed them in a food processor so they were chopped up and I used more processed vegan foods like vegan mayo and cheese. But with the crumbled up garbanzo beans the “tuna” flavor wasn’t there at all, and then with the processed products it didn’t feel homemade. It was still a good creamy pasta dish and we ate it all, but wasn’t what I was looking for.
So here is my second attempt. Can’t say I’m completely done with messing with this recipe, but this so far has been my closest attempt without using processed products. The mushrooms were the best part of the whole thing! And I would have put green peas in it, but it’s one of those things I have to eat sparingly. The other thing is that the cashew sauce still ended up being sweeter than what I wanted. It’s a great creamy pasta dish, but still not quite what I’m looking for for a mock ‘tuna’ casserole. But since everyone, including my husband, had two bowl fulls, it was a recipe I wanted to share with ya’ll! So I’ve just named it my “Chickpea Noodle Casserole”. Enjoy!
I’ve seen recipes that use the kelp granules or kelp flakes but I haven’t bought it yet since I’m not sure how much it will add and if it would add the right flavor. If you’ve used it, please let me know what you used it in and if you could tell that it made a difference.
Chickpea Noodle Casserole
- 1 lb. spiral pasta – boil until cooked, drain, set aside
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 16 oz pkg of white mushrooms, sliced
- *1 can worth of coconut cream – seperated from the coconut water
- NOTE: Coconut Cream – take a can of coconut milk, put it in the fridge and let it cool for a few hours, best if it’s overnight. The coconut cream (fat) and the coconut water will separate. Do not shake. Open the can and the cream will be at the top. Spoon the cream out until you get to the coconut water. Save the water for smoothies.
- 1 c cashews, soaked 2 hours if you don’t have a high power blender
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 c nutritional yeast
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/4 c almond milk, if needed
- 2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed For Cheese Sauce:
- 1 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp tapioca flour
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 4-5 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp ACV
- 1/2 tsp turmeric – more for color
- Dash of Salt and Pepper
- Cook pasta according to package and set aside once it’s drained.
- Take the onion, celery, garlic, and mushrooms and sautee over medium high heat until onions are translucent. The onions and mushrooms should make enough juice that you won’t need to add any oil, but if you feel you need to add a small amount so it doesn’t brown or burn, add it. Once it’s cooked, turn off heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, take the coconut cream (separated from the coconut water), cashews, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, dash of salt and pepper and add to a blender. Blend until smooth, adding almond milk if you need to thin it out. You will still want the mixture thick.
- Once the noodles are cooked and drained, add the coconut/cashew mixture and stir in the pasta pot. Add in sauteed veggies and the 2 cans (drained) chickpeas. Mix thoroughly. Taste and add salt if needed/desired.
- Add the mixture to a greased 9X13 pan. It will be full but it should be thick enough to keep it’s place. Fill it as full as you can.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- For Cheese Sauce: While the oven is preheating make your cheese sauce. Blend all cheese sauce ingredients together until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat over medium heat and stir continually until it starts to thicken – 3 or 4 minutes. Once it’s thickened to the point of cheese sauce texture, pour all over the top of the casserole.
- Place in oven for 20 minutes uncovered. You might want to keep it in there longer (5-10 minutes) if you want the sides to be crispy.
- Let cool for 10 minutes and then dig in!