Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole is one of America’s most divisive meals; some love the idea of recapturing treasured childhood moments spent digging into this comforting dish, while others wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I think there are enough folks in the first camp to provide me a steady stream of requests for a health-minded adaptation over the years, so here we are.

Initially, I couldn’t fathom why people were asking me to recreate Tuna Casserole – the dish I grew up with was made with egg noodles, and pasta is a no-go on the Paleo diet (well…I’m okay with rice pasta, but I digress). Turns out there is a segment of the population that feels a true Tuna Casserole is made with potatoes instead of noodles; once I got word of this concept, throwing the rest of the casserole together was cake.

As with a couple other recipes this month (see: exhibit 1 and exhibit 2), I was approached by Sharp to create dishes using their Convection Microwave, and this casserole seemed like a good fit; the microwave’s convection oven function worked like a charm. One advantage I discovered while making this dish in the microwave was that I could soften the onion in the microwave itself instead of dirtying an extra pan; I used the bottom roasting element to act as a conventional stovetop, then switched it to the convection oven setting and baked the rest of the dish. If you don’t own the microwave (yet?), I’ve provided conventional stovetop and oven instructions below.

I’ve also teamed up with Sharp to give away one of the microwaves that I’ve been using during these cooking adventures. See the bottom of this post for directions on how to enter.

To easily slice the potatoes, I used a mandoline slicer and knocked it out in like a minute.

Lately, we’ve been using Safe Catch canned tuna, which I first heard about while attending Paleo f(x) this past spring. They test every single fish for mercury, and they are caught from sustainably managed stocks. Their limits for mercury are 10x more strict than the FDA regulations, and their Elite tuna is the only canned tuna that meets the low mercury criteria as determined by Consumer Reports, making it safe for children and expecting mothers. Finally, they raw-pack their tuna without any additives or water, and cook the tuna in the can; the juice in the can comes right from the fish, and is super tasty (also: drives my cat bonkers).

Tuna Casserole - Paleo, Primal, Gluten Free, Whole30-friendly

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

4 tbsp butter (ghee okay)
1/2 onion, diced
2 tbsp rice flour (coconut flour okay)
1 cup heavy cream (coconut milk okay)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, more to taste
2 cans (5oz each) tuna, drained
4 russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

Sharp Convection Microwave instructions:

1. Preheat the convection oven to 275F to warm up the inside of the microwave. In a casserole dish, add the butter and diced onion. Press the “Roast” button twice on the microwave to activate the bottom heating element, then set it for 8 minutes. Roast until the onion is softened, opening the microwave door and stirring every 2 minutes, about 8 minutes altogether. Stir in the rice flour and return to the microwave; roast again until the flour is light brown and toasted, again opening the door and stirring every 2 minutes, about 4 minutes total.

2. Set the microwave to convection, and preheat to 350F. As the microwave heats, carefully remove the casserole dish and stir in the cream, broth, salt, and pepper, then gently stir in the tuna, potatoes, and half of the parsley. Cover tightly with heavy duty tin foil and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Uncover the casserole dish and return to the oven; bake until the potatoes are soft and the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and taste for salt and pepper; add more if needed. Stir in the remaining parsley and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Conventional oven instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes, then stir in the rice flour. Sauté until light brown and toasted, about 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the cream, broth, salt, and pepper; simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

2. Stir in the tuna, potatoes and parsley, then transfer to a casserole dish. Cover tightly with heavy duty tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the casserole dish and return to the oven; bake until the potatoes are soft and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the remaining parsley; let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Kyla Andrew, who won the giveaway! The giveaway is now closed.

To enter the giveaway for this microwave ($300 value), simply leave a comment below letting me know which microwave recipe you liked best: this Tuna Casserole, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, or Braised Country Style BBQ Ribs. I will randomly choose a winner on Tuesday, July 14th at 9pm EST. Please be sure to use a valid email address when leaving a comment (in the “email address” field, not the comment itself), as that is how I will contact you. Giveaway limited to continental US residents only, and good luck!

Note: I was paid by Sharp to try their product and develop recipes for it. All opinions expressed are my own.

149 thoughts on “Tuna Casserole

    1. I’ve read quite the contrary from Chris Kresser and Robb Wolf. Both say they are perfectly safe to use and back their opinions up with evidence.

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    2. There is nothing wrong with cooking with a microwave. Except maybe it enables you to cook some questionable food-like products! Russ’s food certainly is more than a few steps above food-like products!

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    3. Hi Leslie, did you have a chance to read the full post and recipe? This microwave functions as a convection oven and roaster, and these are the techniques used in this recipe. It is the same as using an oven but with less ambient heat, which is great for my kitchen in the summertime. I also believe that microwaves are safe to use, after doing my own research. Here is an excellent summary article of the issue: http://chriskresser.com/are-microwave-ovens-safe/ Hope that helps!

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    4. I would love to try this tuna casserole recipe with a new sharp oven! Yum! I bet my fiance would enjoy it as a warm hearty meal as well.

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    5. I look forward to your recipes and LOVE brussel sprouts. But I’m thinking that tuna casserole will be my new favorite. Thanx for your news letter and new recipes

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  1. Never owned, or really used a microwave, seeing some positive reviews about safety has me intrigued. Met you in Boston, love your recipes!

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  2. Hmm, all recipes sound interesting but I would definitely try the Tuna Casserole. Fits my Midwest upbringing! Thanks for writing it!

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  3. Love all your recipes, but I am willing to try the Tuna Casserole as it reminds me of my Mom! Now I have to figure out how to get my hubby to try it ;-)

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  4. Brussel Sprouts were great, using conventional method. Need to find the Tuna and try that casserole. Loved your information/discussion on potatoes.

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  5. We are actually trying out the Ribs recipe tonight. Ribs are in the fridge thawing. I’m excited. But my wife thought this looked awesome, so I see it in our future.

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  6. I am a huge fan of tuna fish sandwiches and I do believe your casserole looks to be the best tuna casserole out there. Definitely going to be trying this recipe on a regular stove very soon. Thank you!

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  7. Tuna casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts, or braised country style ribs…there is no going wrong with any of your recipes! But, since I haven’t tried the tuna casserole, I’ll vote for the ribs!

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  8. I’m not in the “continental ” US, but I want to say that the tuna casserole looks delicious! I’ll be making it tomorrow, perfect meal to have ready for my kids when they get home from swim class!

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  9. I really liked the Tuna Casserolle , part of it because its the only one I was able to make… never thought it would taste this good

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  10. Definitely the roasted Brussels sprouts! We have made your BS recipe several times since you have posted it. It is a keeper and delicious!! We are having the tuna casserole tonight and it is in preparation now. I know it will be good too. However, the Brussels sprouts are addictive,truly!! We never have enough!!

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  11. All your makeover recipes are the bomb! Paleo Takeout is a beautiful cookbook. Truly my favorite. Tuna noodle casserole invokes childhood memories, so that’s my choice.

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  12. That tuna casserole recipe looks awesome. I can’t wait to try it. I wonder if I could do it with salmon as well? definitely my favorite of the three posted so far.

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    1. Randina, yes I think other flaky fish like cod or salmon would do nicely, much like in the British fish pie dish (recipe for that is in my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table).

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  13. I would have to go with the ribs! My husband will only eat cold tuna – picky eater. I just started Paleo 3 months ago – am a fan of yours. Thanks for the recipes.

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  14. All of them sound yummy and I would love to win to be able to create it as you did. Over all Braised Country Style BBQ Ribs is my favorite.

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  15. My SO is a huge comfort food eater but I can’t get past how unhealthy such recipes usually are but in this case I have to say that I think the tuna recipe looks the best to me! Love the idea of using potatoes instead of noodles! And gosh how i would love to have this microwave for our new house!

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  16. The Roasted Brussels Sprouts get my vote! I will make the Tuna Casserole – my husband loves fish in any form – at least once.

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  17. Tuna Casserole gets my vote. I love that you are featuring your convection microwave AND you give conventional oven directions. A convection microwave is on our “wish list” for the kitchen, so it’s great to have some recipes that I can try in the oven for now. But let’s be real…I love all of your recipes!

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  18. My vote is for the Tuna Casserole because I can’t remember the last time I had one and this recipe put it back on my radar in a fun healthy way 😋. Brussels sprouts are always great, but there’s no shortage of good Brussels sprouts recipes. BBQ is delicious too! But again, I just haven’t thought about Tuna Casserole until this awesome recipe, so it has my vote.
    Also, thanks for the Tuna recommendation. Mercury is definitely a concern when deciding what brand to buy and I hadn’t heard about Safe Catch until this post.

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  19. Hard call with the ribs, but I vote for the tuna casserole recipe! Tuna casserole is a family favorite us. At our Bed and Breakfast, we make everything we serve our guest from scratch. We spend hours per day in the kitchen! Our summertime temps get 100 degrees and higher, by dinner time, when I cook for my family, I have had enough of being in a hot kitchen! I can’t wait to try this quick, easy version of tuna casserole. It sounds like the new microwave could have a lot of great uses! Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Tuna casserole ! Reminds me of mom. I think I had one of the first convection microwaves yeeeearrrs ago (late 80’s I think) and loved it. Thank you for the opportunity to win another. :D

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  21. Tuna casserole! I am one of the folks that has always loved this dish as good comfort food is VERY nostalgic for me, but I had always had it with egg noodles. Thanks for making a delicious and simple adaptation!

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  22. I was the quirky kid that loved her veggies. Brussels Sprouts are top on the list. I usually just saute them in a pan. Love the idea of using bacon as both the fat and protein source. The crispy texture must be sublime. Currently, my new kitchen has a horrible electric stove. I end up putting things under the handles of my pots and pans to get an even temperature. I have not even tried the oven. PS I will try the Tuna Casserole. But, I can’t take meat/chicken with bones- a weird quirk in my meat eating habits. Thanks for the recipes.

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  23. I’m going to have to go with this recipe being my favorite in the series. It’s homey comfort food and I’m really glad you re-created it!

    A couple questions, would gold potatoes be okay instead? And would the lack of parsley be a huge deal or do you have a good (dried herb) sub that’d be okay too? Thanks!

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  24. Tuna casserole and Brussels sprouts float my boat but my 2-yr-old and husband will LOVE the ribs! So RIBS win ! :)
    Would love to win the convection microwave. My husband is into everything convection.

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  25. I made this on the weekend! It was SO good, used coconut milk as just recently milk and dairy seems to make me have a sneezing fit and get congested! I will make it again and again. Also we had some leftover salmon from the night before so i threw that in there too. Oh and some leftover carrots too! yummy yum yum

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  26. I enjoyed reading the tuna casserole one the best, though i’d probably enjoy eating the ribs the most! These recipes are a “good sell” for the microwave—even though a longer (and in the summer hotter due to relative heating inefficiency) effort might still be ideal sometimes, these are great examples of how this tool could be nice (especially in a daily life context).

    On a side note I think it’s hilarious that the first comment here is about not using microwaves—on a giveaway post (yes, I know the poster didn’t say which recipe she liked best, but still).

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  27. So the only problem I have with this recipe is that the instructions did not say to double the recipe. My God was this good!!! Me and my 4 year old ate almost the whole casserole dish. Thanks Russell!

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  28. Ribs ribs ribs! But I may have to really try a suggestions above and use this recipe with salmon… Sounds divine! I’ll make sure to give it a go with my new sharp convection oven and let you know. ;) I hope, I hope!

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  29. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tuna fish but sorta gave up on ever eating a tuna casserole again. I like the idea of potatoes vs noodles and am excited to try it. Thanks!
    This recipe just reminded me of another old time favorite…Tuna a la King, it, of course wasn’t healthy…tuna, cream of mushroom soup and peas over toast. I’m salivating thinking about it. Would you consider giving that one a make over too??? I’d be ever so grateful! Thanks for doing what you do…and please don’t stop.

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  30. The winner for me is the brussell sprouts with bacon. Oh, did I mention the bacon? Really? It has BACON!!!!!!!! Love your posts!

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  31. I would have to say roasted Brussels sprouts bc I have never been a fan of hot canned tuna. I am willing to give it another go though, my husband can always eat the leftovers if it’s not to my taste. Thanks for the recipe.

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  32. I have never been a tuna casserole fan, but I am curious about the potatoes in place of pasta. My Irish roots finds the idea intriguing. :)

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  33. Tuna Casserole! It reminds me of what my mother used to cook when we were small. Your recipes are the best. Tonight I am making the Bam Bam shrimp! You are inspiring me to cook out of my box! Thank you Russ!

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  34. Buy two identical plants from a nursery. Give one microwaved water and the other water from your tap. Watch their progress.

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  35. Are tuna caught only in the Pacific? I’m worried about radiation from Fukushima, haven’t bought canned tuna since the accident. Comments?

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    1. I believe Safe Catch Tuna is from the Pacific Ocean; I haven’t done any research as to whether these tuna schools are affected by the Fukushima disaster so I can’t say definitively.

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  36. I finally cooked this for dinner last night and it was delicious. Your recipes are always outstanding. I never would have thought of putting potatoes into tuna casserole but it was just perfect.

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  37. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked to make since it arrived in my inbox back in July. I finally made it last night and it is delicious! My kids loved it too. Super easy and budget friendly, I will definitely be adding this to my regular recipes.

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  38. This sounds like an amazing recipe. I am not a huge fan of the original tuna casserole, but this sounds heavenly. And to cook it in this amazing microwave would be wonderful! Will definitely be saving this recipe and trying it next weekend! Thanks for sharing!

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  39. I simply love this recipe- noodles n’ tuna don’t cut it anymore and I used my oven to cook to this. Please enter my email address for the drawing on July 14th 2016

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  40. This was delicious — everybody wanted seconds. I will double the recipe for next time. ;-) A couple of notes:
    — I used a smaller, 8×8 casserole dish
    — I used only two “biggish” russet potatoes — I had bought four potatoes, but my 8×8 casserole dish could only handle two potatoes.
    — I used coconut milk, and no one could tell it wasn’t cream
    — I kept the potatoes separate from the tuna mix — I layered the potatoes by hand into the casserole dish and spooned the tuna mix over each thin layer of potatoes.
    — When I double it for next time, I will reduce the amount of chicken broth by 25% because I felt the sauce could have been just a tad thicker after cooking. I guess the moisture from the potatoes thinned down the sauce a little more than expected.

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