Cheesy Tuna Helper copycat recipe is made from scratch. Rather than grab that box from the store shelf, try this easy version. It doesn’t really take that much longer. The flavor and texture is far superior. This is not your Grandma’s tuna casserole!
Cheesy Tuna Helper Copycat Recipe
1 small bag (2 to 3 ounces) thin potato chips (substitute your favorite flavor – onion or cheese work well)
1 can (12 ounces) PLUS 1 pouch (2.6 ounces) chunk light tuna in water, reserve liquid
8 ounces button, cremini, or baby portobello mushrooms
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced sweet onions
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups clam juice or seafood broth (may substitute chicken broth)
1 cup heavy cream or milk
2 cups fine-shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided use
12 ounces curly wide pasta noodles
2 cups frozen baby sweet peas, unthawed (see Notes)
Chopped parsley for garnish
Crush the potato chips and set aside for the topping.
Drain the tuna, reserving the liquid. You should have about 1/2 cup. Set aside for now.
Clean the mushrooms. Trim the stem ends. Slice the mushrooms from top to bottom, including stems, into 1/4-inch thicknesses.
Place a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter, sliced mushrooms, diced sweet onions, and salt. Saute, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid and onions are opaque and liquid has reduced by half.
Sprinkle the mushrooms and onions with the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute to cook out the rawness. (It will look like a pasty glob, but that’s okay.) Stir in the reserved tuna liquid and chicken broth. When it begins to thicken, add the cream or milk along with 1-1/2 cups of the shredded Cheddar cheese.
Bring to a simmer, stirring often. When cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and let cool slightly while cooking the noodles. Taste and add salt, if necessary. (Keep in mind that the noodles will absorb even more salt.)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Coat a 9- by 13-inch glass or non-stick casserole dish with butter-flavored vegetable spray.
Cook the curly noodles in salted water until not quite al dente. (The noodles will cook more in the oven, so it’s important not to over-cook them. Six to 8 minutes works for me.) Drain the noodles thoroughly and pour into the prepared casserole along with the drained tuna and baby sweet peas. Add with the cheese sauce and toss gently to combine. Try to break apart the tuna as little as possible.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese across the top of the casserole and finish with the crushed potato chips.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbly and golden. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
Yield: 8 servings
• It won’t be traditional, however green beans or broccoli may be substituted for the sweet peas. Fresh bread crumbs, toasted in butter, may be substituted for the potato chips.
• If you are an extreme cheese fan, add an extra cup of shredded Cheddar to the sauce. Calories be darned! 🙂