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Mom's "Tuna" Noodle Casserole

No recipe image available.Here's a vegan version of an old-fashioned family favorite straight from the 1950s. Pack a leftover portion of this casserole as part of a brown-bag lunch—it's just as tasty at room temperature. Baked tofu does an awesome job standing in for tuna.

Recipe Ingredients:

12 ounces ribbon-style noodles (see Notes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium stalks celery, diced
1 cup sliced white or crimini mushrooms (optional)
2 cups rice milk or soy milk
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 (10 to 12-ounce) package baked tofu, finely diced (see Notes)
2 to 3 scallions, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wheat germ for topping

Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Cook the noodles in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the celery dice and sauté over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until they are wilted, about 5 minutes longer.
  4. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the milk into the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Combine the remaining 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.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the noodles, celery-mushroom mixture, sauce, tofu, and scallions. Mix gently but thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper and toss again.
  6. Transfer the mixture to an oiled, wide shallow casserole dish. Sprinkle generously with wheat germ.
  7. Bake for 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.

Makes 6 servings.

Notes:

  • You can use any sort of ribbon noodle (try a nutritious variety like quinoa or spelt ribbons) or use fettuccine or pappardelle, broken into thirds.
  • Look for baked tofu in natural foods stores and well-stocked supermarkets.

Recipe provided courtesy of Nava Atlas; www.vegkitchen.com.