Mom’s “Tuna”-Noodle Casserole
In this age of hurried meals, when even the most avid cooks crave a degree of convenience, casseroles can seem like a charming anachronism. They bring to mind perfect 1950s moms, wearing aprons and pearl earrings. Yet, there is irresistible comfort in a heartwarming casserole, and the entire enterprise can be brought up to date with contemporary ingredients and fresh produce. Here’s a vegan version of an old-fashioned casserole.
Serves: 6 to 8
- 12 ounces vegan ribbon noodles (quinoa, spelt, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon olive or other healthy vegetable oil
- 3 medium celery stalks, diced
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups rice milk
- 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
- 8-ounce package baked tofu, finely diced
- 2 to 3 scallions, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Wheat germ or bread crumbs for topping (use gluten-free bread crumbs
if this is a concern for you)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the noodles in plenty of rapidly simmering water according to package directions until al dente, then drain.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the celery dice and sautéover medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are wilted.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of the rice milk into the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Combine the remaining rice milk with the flour in a small bowl and stir until the flour is smoothly dissolved. Slowly pour into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened, then remove from the heat.
When the noodles are done, drain them, then return them to the pot. Pour in the sauce, then add the baked tofu and scallions and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to an oiled large shallow casserole dish. Top generously with wheat germ or bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and beginning to get crusty. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into squares to serve.