To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Guilt-Free T.C.

Due to the fact that I expect to be rather busy for the next few days, I decided to make a casserole to tide me through the coming week. And then I realized, hey! I haven't showed you guys any of my wicked fun casserole dishes. So you, my friends, are in for a treat. This dish makes about 8-10 servings. It's delicious, wholesome, guilt-free, and utterly satisfying. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed inventing it. :)

Guilt-Free Tuna Casserole
(Serves 8-10)

1/4 cup breadcrumbs
8 oz vegetable rotini pasta (this pasta is made from compressed veggies and is super delicious)
olive oil cooking spray
3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and diced
1 head cauliflower
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp almond meal
1 Tbsp flax seed meal
1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup water
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and diced
~14.8 oz canned tuna - unsalted, packed in water, drained
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
~1 Tbsp dried dill (make sure it's finely minced)
~1 Tbsp low-fat Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a stockpot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.

Dice a head of cauliflower into 1-2 inch florets, including as much of the stalk as you can manage without adding the green parts. Set these out over a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, spray gently with olive oil cooking spray and dust lightly with milled sea salt (or kosher). Put this in the oven to bake, should take between 30-40 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the edges.

Meanwhile, heat a large stockpot (the bigger the better, within reason) over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Mist with olive oil cooking spray and add celery and onion. Saute for 2 minutes or until onions become translucent.

In a small bowl (I used a tea cup), combine the almond and flax seed meals.

Add chicken broth, water, and the mix of almond meal and flax seed meal; whisk briskly until it begins to go frothy. [This, by the way, is my cheat to making a healthy roux (or thickener). I think you can also use this to make homemade "cream" sauces, though - considering I just made it up - I have not yet tested this.] Reduce heat to medium. Stir in drained pasta, carrots, tuna, and peas. Add dill. Remove from heat.

By now, your cauliflower should be done roasting. Take it out and load the entire head's worth of little roasted pieces into a food processor. (If you don't have a food processor, you can use a food mill, a potato ricer (these are so awesome!), or at the most rudimentary a potato masher.) Puree the cauliflower until it's well mushed (yes, that's my technical term); add the minced garlic and puree again. Now dump the contents of your food processor into the bowl full of tuna stew. Stir until well combined. It should take on a thick, glutinous consistency.

Pour tuna-pasta-cauliflower mixture into a 11.5 x 15 inch casserole dish (preferably glass). Sprinkle with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and a light dusting of Parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until browned on top. Remove and serve hot.

For storage, cover tightly with saran wrap (or put it into a casserole container with a sealing lid like I do) and put it in the fridge. It will keep for about 5 days. If you want it to last for 7 or 8, cut a portion off, seal it, and put it in the freezer, leaving the rest in the fridge. 

Note: This recipe might seem a little low on salt, if you're used to cooking and eating with it. As you may have noticed, I barely use any when I cook, so my tongue isn't super sensitive to it when it's missing. To me, this dish is perfect in its garlicky, mushy, delicious comfort foody way. I'd say taste test before you transfer it to your baking dish, just to make sure you'll be happy. And if you must add more salt, be sparing with it. The less you use, the more you'll get used to not using it, and then you'll eventually find that you don't miss it at all. :)

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