Saturday, August 18, 2012

Healthier Tuna Rice Casserole

I think everyone has a meal that weaves it way through childhood memories.  That iconic dish that symbolizes comfort and family.  Mine is tuna rice casserole.  Rice.  Tuna.  Cream of mushroom soup.  Stir together and microwave until warm.  

I can't think of tuna rice casserole without thinking of my moms 3 piece glass casserole dish.  I imagine it smugly sitting in our over-sized black microwave, back-lit and beautiful.  

I can understand why my mom gravitated to such a simple meal.  3 ingredients, stirred together, and popped in the microwave.  What could be simpler?  And with 6 kids, simple was a necessity.  

My mom still makes it sometimes when her house is filled with children and grandchildren visiting.  We devour it while catching up on our various and scattered lives.  Laughing and chatting.  Tuna rice casserole has followed me through my life.'s really not that good for you.  White rice and condensed soups are ingredients for a nutrition disaster.  Though I occasionally still enjoy it's nostalgia effect, I prefer to keep my distance.  I decided to create a recipe that mimics the comfort of tuna rice casserole, but is made with healthier ingredients.    

And it was so good.  With a made from scratch white sauce and the addition of protein rich peas, maybe this recipe will weave it's way though my own children's memories.  

Healthier Tuna Rice Casserole
Serves 4
A Balancing the Table Original

2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 finely chopped onion
2 Tablespoons unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 cans tuna
1 1/2 cup peas
3 cups cooked brown rice (I love instant brown rice)

1. Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Saute mushrooms and onion in melted butter for about a minute.
3. Whisk in the flour and salt until smooth, cook until bubbly.
4. Slowly whisk in the milk, making sure no lumps form. Cook until smooth and thickened.  Remove from heat.
5. Mix together the white sauce, tuna, peas, and brown rice.  Pour into a large microwave safe dish.  Microwave on high 5 minutes, or until hot. 

What the husband thinks:  Despite being extremely hesitant (he is not a fan of rice casseroles or brown rice) he REALLY liked this.  I think the addition of the peas was what did it for him.  This is the first rice casserole I have made during over four years of marriage and will probably be the only one I try.

What the kid ate:  A whole bowl!  When I was talking with my mom on the phone about making this, she told me that Reed would probably really enjoy it.  I doubted it, as he's never like any rice dish before.  Well, she was right.  He loved it!  It took him a while to attempt it and I may have had to sneak the first bite into his mouth...but...he enjoyed it.

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