Monday, August 1, 2011

Vegetable of the Sea Noodle Casserole

The other day I was checking out at the grocery store, and there were shiny, brightly colored packages of "seaweed snack" begging to be grabbed as an impulse buy. Sawyer complied with the ploy and begged me to get some for him. Like any respectable mother, I gave in and bought my son the much-coveted seaweed treat, interested to see the look on his face when he discovered that it wasn't candy, per se. Who knows--maybe he would like it? He does insist that dark green is his favorite color. He was indeed brave and gingerly sampled a few morsels, but the real surprise was that Abiline devoured most of it. And ever since, she has been munching up daily doses of seaweed snack. So I decided that I would try to combine the kids' favorite meal-time foods--seaweed, peas (Abiline's other passion), and pasta (Sawyer's one true love). The "tuna-less casserole" idea has been done before, but I have never loved any of the recipes I have tried, so here is my own version, which Anthony called "delicious" and which the kids happily ate without complaint.

1 lb. pasta (We used spirals because those are easy for Abiline to eat.)
1/2 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp. oil, for sauteeing the onion
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1. c. frozen peas
1 1/2 c. cooked white beans
1 1/2 c. plain dairy-free milk (I used hemp)
1/4 c. seaweed flakes (These are pretty readily available nowadays--Trader Joe's, Costco, your local Asian market)
1/4 c. tahini
3 tbsp. soy-free Earth Balance, or your margarine of choice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (If you don't want to buy this, you could just add some pepper and call it good)
1 c. cracker crumbs of choice
1/2 c. Daiya vegan cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a 9x13in glass pan. Boil a large pot of water and cook and drain the pasta according to the package directions.
2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the oinion, and saute until transparent and starting to brown.
3. Steam the cauliflower either in the microwave or in a steamer basket until tender. Thaw the peas.
4. Add 2/3 of the cauliflower, beans, dairy-free milk, seaweed, tahini, Earth Balance, salt, paprika, and Old Bay Seasoning to a blender and puree until smooth.
5. Add the pasta, peas, and the remaining cauliflower to the prepared pan, pour the sauce over it, and stir to combine. Sprinkle evenly with the cracker crumbs and Daiya, if desired. Bake for 20 mins. in the preheated oven.


  1. Amazing! I love this recipe and so do my omni friends/boy friend. I make some changes, though. I add nutritional yeast, omit seaweed because I'm out and always forget to grab more, use onion and garlic powder, a box of firm silken tofu in place of the beans and milk, puree the entire half-head of cooked cauliflower, and omit tahini (because I don't like the taste). So it seems like I change it quite a bit, but your original was such a great inspiration and I love using the cauliflower in the sauce. It would also be awesome as a mac'n'cheeze base with tons of nooch and some turmeric.

    1. Wow--your adaptation sounds amazing! Thanks so much for sharing, Kelsie :o)