Creamy “Tuna” Casserole with Crunchy Flaxseed

My Mom used to make tuna casserole all the time when I was growing up. I still remember getting excited at the sound of her opening those little metal cans of tuna. As I got older, the whole idea of canned seafood starting to lose its appeal and now as a vegan, it’s out the window completely. And yet sometimes I still crave the smell of a casserole baking in the oven, seeing the creamy sauce bubbling to a boil and savoring the texture of that crispy, crunchy top layer.

Vegans, vegetarians, and those of you grossed out by canned seafood: do not dismay! I have the answer right here.

This scrumptious casserole has all the elements of homemade casseroles of yore. The mushrooms and baked tofu give you the meaty texture and pair perfectly with the tender noodles drowning in a creamy sauce. Instead of bread crumbs (many store-bought bread crumbs contain dry milk), I used a flaxseed meal/garlic nuggets/sea salt mixture that gives you the crunch with the added bonus of fiber, antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids!

For this dish you’ll need:

  • 12 oz. vegan noodles
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups rice or soy milk
  • 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 8-oz package baked tofu, diced
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • garlic nuggets
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add the noodles and cook until just tender.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a medium saucepan and saute celery for a couple of minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cook until they’re wilted.

Pour 1-1/2 cups of the milk into the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup milk with the flour in a small bowl and stir until the flour is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Slowly pour this into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened, then remove from heat.

When the noodles are done, drain them and return them to the pot. Pour in the sauce, then add the baked tofu and scallions and gently fold together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the whole thing to an oiled, large shallow casserole dish (I used a 9 x13). Top with an even layer of the flaxseed meal, followed by an even shaking of garlic nuggets and sea salt. Bake  for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and beginning to get crusty.

Serve hot! (With Tabasco if you’re like me.)

Happy eating!