Love it or hate it, tuna casserole is an American classic… at least in the upper Midwest where I grew up, and for years I’ve wondered: could I make a tasty AIP version, perhaps a “Tuna Zoodle Casserole”? My first couple attempts were watery failures (more like tuna zoodle soup… blech). But I kept at it and ultimately came up with a “tuna hotdish” complete with a crispy chip topping that I’d be proud to plop down on any potluck table from here to the Mississippi River!
Tips for success
The noodles for this dish are “zoodles” or noodles made from zucchini, which is probably not an unfamiliar concept these days. I used to have this stand alone spiralizer,
I decided to trade it in, thinking it would be nice not to have to crank the handle and maybe I could save some storage space. I was right on one count and wrong on another. I like letting the mixer motor do the work for me, but I still have to store the attachment somewhere! Truth is, they both do a great job. And these days you don’t even really need one because you can probably get the “zoodles” already made at your grocery store.
Zucchini contains a lot of liquid and the cooking process seems to release much of it, resulting in a watery (though still tasty) casserole, so it is very important that you allow the time in the instructions to let the salted zoodles sit and drain. 30 minutes is good but an hour or more is even better… and then give them a good squeeze for good measure.
Not a coconut fan?
You can use a different AIP-friendly fat, such as palm shortening or lard, and omit the coconut milk, using an equal amount of additional bone broth. You won’t look quite as creamy, but it will still have a good texture, taste, and mouthfeel.
Notes on ingredients
As always, make sure the ingredients you are using are the best possible quality you budget allows. If you don’t want to make your own bone broth, see this post for store bought options. The best source for shelf stable AIP-ingredients like cassava flour, coconut milk, and plantain chips is ShopAIP.
I used this brand of tuna in this recipe, which specifically says not to drain the liquid. If you choose to use a tuna that is packed in water or oil, you will want to drain that liquid before adding.
Tuna Zoodle Casserole Recipe
- 4-5 cups of zucchini noodles (from 2-3 large zucchinis)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil (divided)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 ounces white button mushrooms, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons cassava flour
- 1½ cups bone broth
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 2 cans tuna (5 ounces each)
- 1 cup plantain chips, crushed
- Place spiralized zucchini noodles in colander and toss with salt. Allow to drain for 30-60 minutes and then squeeze as much excess water as you can out of them.
- Transfer salted and drained zoodles to a 2-3 quart casserole dish.
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and celery in 1 tablespoon coconut oil until soft (about 3 minutes) then add garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking until everything is soft and lightly browned (about 5 more minutes).
- Spread cooked vegetables evenly over top zoodles and return now empty skillet to the heat.
- Add 2 more tablespoons coconut oil to the skillet and cassava flour. Cook and stir vigorously until brown (about 2 minutes). Add broth and continue cooking and stirring until a thick gravy has formed (about 3 minutes). Add coconut milk and tuna. Stir to break up tuna chunks and cook until mixture is bubbling and thick.
- Pour tuna mixture evenly over vegetables in casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil (or oven safe glass casserole dish lid).
- Place in oven and bake, covered, for 25 minutes.
- Remove casserole from oven and increase temperature to 425° F. Remove cover and sprinkle evenly with crushed plantain chips.
- Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes or until top is nicely browned and liquid on edges is bubbling.
Did you enjoy this recipe? Want to be the first to hear about new AIP-friendly, gluten-free, Paleo recipes? Please sign up for my weekly email newsletter to stay in the loop!
PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.