Not Your Mother’s Casserole


Ewwwww – look who’s trying to break into my home! A giant, wannabe boxelder bug! It’s got horns and is as big as my thumb. I refuse to even flick him off through the screen… Gross!


So – guys! What do you think of when you hear the word “Casserole”? I immediately think of mayonnaise, loads of cheese, cream of this-that-and-the-other soup, etc. These ingredients were nowhere to be found in tonight’s dinner. The casserole I made was sophisticated and light…it was the anti-casserole casserole! I give you…

Lemon Tuna Noodle Casserole

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens recipe here. Serves 4.



1 cup dried pasta

1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 Tablespoons chopped onion

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice (un-pictured)

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

dash of garlic powder

salt & pepper

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup chicken broth

5 oz Canned tuna packed in water


Topping Mixture:

1 Tablespoon butter

3/4 cup crushed oyster crackers

Dash of salt, onion powder & garlic powder


1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Sauté onions and celery until soft, ~10 minutes.

2. Add mustard through flour to pan and stir until combined. Add chicken broth and whisk until mixture is smooth, thick and bubbly.

3. Add pasta and tuna. Mix until combined and pour into greased casserole dish.

4. Top with oyster crackers that have been toasted in a skillet for about a minute with melted butter, salt, onion and garlic powder.


5. Cover casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 5 minutes.


I giggled when this came out of the oven. You have to appreciate the eye appeal of a hot, bubbly casserole!


The toasted, buttery crackers were the first thing I smelled – divine!


I could not wait to dive in.


This is actually only the second or third time I’ve even had Tuna Noodle Casserole, but I like to think that my version is a little more gourmet than your average TNC. ;)


The lemon and Dijon mustard gave this casserole such a unique and interesting taste. I had to pull the reigns in…I could have eaten the entire thing!


The buttery, garlicky oyster crackers were the perfect light and crunchy topping. They were so much more satisfying than the standard, crushed potato chips that usually adorn the top of Tuna Noodle Casserole.


For some freshness, I chopped up some carrots and celery, and made us some simple Spinach Salads.


Doesn’t this look like a beautiful spinach flower? :)


Guys – you’ve GOT to try this dish. It’ll blow every stereotype you’ve got about casseroles right out of the water. Trust me on this!

FYI – the word casserole is French for saucepan. And Minnesotans call them “hot dish“…love it!

Biggest Loser in T-minus 6 minutes!!


Do you like casseroles? Did you eat them growing up?

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  1. I like the sound of that casserole! Definitely different from your average tuna casserole!

    I did grow up with casseroles and still make them on occasion! I love casseroles!

  2. Evan Thomas 10.27.2009

    I don’t think my mom ever served me casseroles growing up. She did lover her penne, chicken, and broccoli n a skillet, though

  3. Boxelders creep me out. We always have tons of them at my church because of the surrounding trees. Orkin loves us because of this.

    I don’t make a ton of casseroles for your aformentioned idea of cream of stuff-ness. I do make a good mexican one but I don’t consider that a casserole but more of a layered mexican dish. Weird huh because my mind has a negative association with that word.

  4. Lauren 10.27.2009

    Kristin, this looks fantastic! So upscale from the retro Tuna Noodle version that my mom made. I once saw a recipe on Rachel Ray for a very galmorous tuna noodle casserole where she used real tuna white wine and spinach and white beans. Sounded amazing! I must try and look for this recipe now.

    Glad you are enjoying the fall comfort foods. I am sure its getting mighty chilly in your neck of the woods.

    Have a great nigh hun!

  5. Jenna 10.27.2009

    Being a Minnesotan, I go against the grain of calling it a Hot Dish. That reference makes me shiver, I like ‘casserole’ much better. :)

    Your casserole looks so nummy. Perfect for a fall dinner.

  6. Stephanie 10.27.2009

    I’ve actually never had tuna noodle casserole believe it or not… partially bc we never had many casseroles growing up and partially bc I have never been able to like canned tuna :( (love fresh though!) I’ve tried to like it, I promise! However you make it look ever so appealing with this dish, great job on the dinner girlie and maybe – just maybe – you’ll convert me to a tuna lovah (liker?) ;)

  7. I like casseroles, but we never ate them at my house when I was younger. This looks like a great recipe, I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Julie 10.27.2009

    I like caseroles, and my mom makes a really good chcicken one with stuffing, cheese, broccoli and cream of something soup. I think it’s called chicken divan.

  9. sassy molassy 10.27.2009

    Yes, i agree there are stereotypes to the casserole. This one sure does look yummy! I recall the creamy warm yet crunchy taste to the tuna casserole. That’s home cookin’ for sure.

  10. Jamie 10.27.2009

    Growing up I bet we ate some form of a casserole at least 2-3 times a week, out of anything my family had on hand. Green bean and wild rice casserole, tomato-noodle casserole, tater-tot “hot dish,” and the crowd favorite with the fam, tuna fish casserole! I’m definitely going to have to make your version of it! Love the blog by the way!

  11. Wendy 10.27.2009

    Is that what those nasty bugs are called? I always wondered, as I stepped waaaaaayyyyy around them. Ick.

    That casserole looks fantastic! Another one of your recipes to go on my must-try list. I like casseroles – perfect comfort food if you ask me, especially when it’s cold outside. My kids, on the other hand, do NOT like all their food mixed together in one dish. They must be separated, or they will not touch it. Go figure.

    P.S. I shopped at HyVee all the time when I was in college. I so miss that store!!

  12. Niki 10.27.2009

    I’m picky about casseroles but I love how easy they are! Plus they make for great leftovers! I’ve never had tuna noodle casserole but this recipe looks wonderful! Who am I kidding…every recipe I recreate of yours is wonderful so I’m sure this is too!! :)

  13. Holly 10.27.2009

    i loathe boxelder bugs. i don’t think i can say just how much i hate them. but i love you :)

  14. Diana 10.28.2009

    That casserole looks yummy! :)
    Ugh, I’d freak out if I ever saw a spider that big in my house.. or even near my house!

  15. Mikael 10.28.2009

    Haven’t had much casserole ever I don’t think… But yours looks quite yummy! And the salad looks quite good too.
    That bug is fricking scary though! Right in time for Halloween, that little bugger (pun so intended :P)!

  16. Wow, the cooking method of this dish is great and the cooking pics are so hd that i can follow easily, I’ll try it later and I hope it tastes the way it look. Thanks for sharing!

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