Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No-Tuna Casserole

For the past few days I've been craving my mom's tuna casserole. The only hitch? I don't eat fish. Today I came up with this experimental recipe for a vegetarian-friendly tuna casserole on the fly and I think I did alright. Sorry, I don't measure when I very often so just experiment for yourself. It's kind of hard to mess this up.

No-Tuna Casserole

1 can chickpeas, drained with liquid reserved
1 can cream of mushroom soup
a few handfuls of egg noodles, probably ~2 or 3 cups
frozen peas, about 1/2 cup
small handful of green olives, sliced + 1tbsp of olive juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp minced red onion
garlic salt and pepper
potato chips

Preheat oven to 350*. Cook egg noodles to al dente and drain. While noodles are cooking, mash chickpeas in a bowl with a fork. Stir in soup, frozen peas, onion, and olives. When noodles are done, add them to the soup mixture. Add the olive juice, soy sauce, and chickpea liquid to water it down a bit and mix carefully. (I think I added about 1/3 cup) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread into greased casserole dish or 9x9 baking dish. Crush potato chips on top and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

I thought this was pretty good, but would be better with some shredded cheddar in the chickpea-soup mixture as well as sprinkled on top before the chip layer. That's how my mom makes hers, but I forgot to buy some at the store. She doesn't add peas but I felt like I should at least have a vegetable in it, hah. Additionally I only had about 5 large olives so I would definitely add more next time. It needs more salt, but then again I love everything way too salty.

This was a really quick dish to make. It probably took me 35 minutes total. You could easily make this ahead to freeze for later. Just leave off the chips and add them when you reheat it in the oven.

Chickpeas as a tuna substitute may sound weird, but it's pretty common especially in mock tuna salad recipes. In a cold recipe it is so delicious! I wasn't sure how it would work in a baked dish, but it was good. Just be sure you get all of the chickpeas when you're mashing because it's a bit strange to bite into a whole one along with noodles and olives. With a little tweaking I think I could have an amazing recipe.