Of course not. You can’t have a real fake anything. But my meat-eating friends tell me my vegetarian tuna casserole tastes like tuna casserole, so that’s what I’m calling it!
Is Tuna Vegetarian?
I remember an incident in Spain while attending college over there for a year. Our choir went on tour, and to save money the choir director arranged for choir members to stay in the homes of the church members whose churches we performed in.
We thought the choir director had also explained our dietary needs to our host families. When my friend and I sat down for the evening meal, our sweet hostess placed roast beef in front of us. I politely demurred when she offered a serving, and took the potatoes instead.
We chatted about her town, her family (her children had all married and she her husband had passed away), and the weather. Eventually, she asked me why I didn’t want the beef. I explained that I had grown up vegetarian, and had never had meat before.
“I’ll get you something else!” she exclaimed.
I tried to dissuade her, “I’m fine, the delicious potatoes are plenty.”
She ignored me and rushed to her kitchen. I looked helplessly at my friend. Five minutes later, our hostess returned with a plate of tuna salad. I thanked her profusely, took a small serving, and asked if I could have more water. When she carried my glass to the kitchen, I quickly transferred the tuna salad to my napkin and stuck it in my purse for later disposal.
So, No. Tuna (the fish) eat other fish and crustaceans, which makes them pescatarian, not vegetarian. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk vegetarian tuna casserole!
The Birth of a Casserole
Fifteen years after the tuna salad incident, I hosted a bunco party at my house. I served oat-nut-patty casserole, and my bunco friends all swore it tasted like tuna casserole. Since meat eaters will probably never do a google search for ‘oat-nut-patty casserole’ (since ya’ll probably don’t know that that’s a thing), I’m calling this vegetarian tuna casserole.
Since I’ve never eaten tuna, I have no idea if actually tastes like tuna casserole. I can’t guarantee the results. But I can promise that even your meatatarian friends and family will like it (even if it isn’t really tuna).Check out this recipe for vegetarian tuna casserole! #vegetarian #tuna #entree Click To Tweet
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If you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative to tuna casserole, this prepare-ahead alternative will fit the bill!
2 cups cashews
6 cups of dry quick oats
2 large onions
2 tablespoons sage
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded jack cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Place the cashews in a blender or food processor and pulverize them (smaller than chopped, but don’t turn them into butter). Dump the nuts into a very large mixing bowl and mix with the oats.
Cut the onions into large chunks and place in the blender (a high-speed blender works best) with the sage, salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, 1 can of the mushroom soup, and the water. Blend on high until everything is soupy.
Pour the onion mixture over the oat and nut mixture, add the eggs, and mix well. Set aside for an hour so that the oats absorb the onions.
Use a small amount of olive oil on a large skillet and fry up the patties in small cookie-sized servings (about two tablespoons of batter). Use medium-low heat.
You’ll end up with enough patties for at least three square casserole dishes. I freeze the remainders and use them later on when I need a quick meal.
To assemble the casserole, spray an 8X8 casserole dish with nonstick spray. Spread 1/2 can of mushroom soup in the bottom of the dish. Add about 24 (3 rows of 8) patties (imagine Oreos on the their sides in the store packaging). Spread the rest of the mushroom soup on top and sprinkle 1/2 cup to 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for an hour. Remove the foil after 45 minutes.
I use the oat-nut patties for other dishes, too. You can cover them with spaghetti sauce and add parmesan cheese, or fry them up burger-sized and use them in veggie burgers.
Keywords: vegetarian, tuna, casserole, cashews, heart-healthy, prepare ahead