Oh, the wonders of fall. The temperatures in Phoenix are finally starting to taper off a bit and I’m hankering for some healthy casseroles. I have some standby recipes that I’ve been making for years (and some, for decades). This recipe is one of them.
The basis for this casserole, a rich homemade sauce that mimics cream of mushroom soup from a can, comes together in minutes. Low fat and tasty, you’ll never believe it was made with skim milk; you’ll definitely never miss canned “cream-o whatever.” Since I’m participating in “October Unprocessed” I’m purposely avoiding foods with added preservatives.
The ingredients are heart healthy and provide an ample amount of calcium from the salmon, broccoli and milk. Score again that broccoli is a seasonal fall food and is found abundantly (read cheaper than normal) in grocery stores today. Two different types of mushrooms lend a somewhat exotic taste to this dish making this a nice option if you’re having company too.
Although this recipe calls for pasta, I’m forever on a mushroom/barley kick so I used two cups of cooked pearl barley in place of the pasta. I may make this a permanent substitution.
- 1/4 cup dried mushrooms (porcini or shiitake)
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 cups cooked broccoli florets
- 6 oz orzo, elbows, petite shells or other small pasta
- 1 cup nonfat or lowfat milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper (I prefer white pepper in this recipe)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1.5 cups fresh mushrooms (I use baby bellas)
- 7 ounce can salmon, drained
- Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- Dried or finely chopped fresh parsley
- Measure out 1/2 cup water in a 1 or 2 cup glass or plastic measuring cup. Microwave for about a minute until boiling. Add dried mushroom and let them sit for about 15 minutes until they reconstitute. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. (The liquid will have some grit in it from the mushrooms. I strain mine through a paper coffee filter.)
- In a medium to large saucepan, heat water until boiling and cook pasta according to package directions. The pasta should be al dente so it holds up to the sauce so cook for the minimum amount of time (or even a minute or two less). Drain when done.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the milk, cornstarch, sage, salt and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk together. Cornstarch clumps together in liquid so keep the whisk handy.
- In the same saucepan you previously cooked the pasta, heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
- Add the fresh mushroom and cook for about a minute. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms and cook for another minute. The mushrooms will soak up the small amount of oil that was in the pan so add *one or two tablespoons* of the reserved mushroom liquid to the pan.
- Pour the remaining mushroom liquid into the milk mixture and whisk again until the cornstarch is evenly distributed.
- Pour this mixture into the saucepan with the mushrooms. Increase the heat to medium high. Stir constantly as the mixture thickens considerably. This will happen quickly so be careful not to let it burn.
- Remove from heat and add the broccoli, salmon and pasta to the pot. Stir everything together and pour it into a 8″ x 8″ baking dish sprayed with non stick spray.
- Sprinkle the top with cheese and parsley. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.
- Optional: Place pan under broiler for 3 to 5 minutes so the top turns nice and brown. Watch this closely so it doesn’t burn.
Salmon from a can is a clean, safe, sustainable option to tuna. And its high on Omega-3s. Be warned that it does come with a small amount of skin and bones. These are totally edible and will disappear once you mix the salmon into the recipe.
Kat’s Second Tip:
In this recipe the milk and mushroom liquid come together with the mushrooms to make a rich sauce. If you are like me and want an easy substitution for “cream-o whatever” soup for other recipes; check out these easy to follow directions from the Once A Month Mom website.
Nutritional information – values are approximate per serving:
Calories 308 Total Fat 5 g Cholesterol 27 mg Sodium 570 mg Total Carbohydrate 45 g Protein 20 g
Inspiration: Weight Watchers Smart Choice Recipe Collection – 1995