We all love an easy one-pan dinner (especially busy cooks!), and casseroles fit that description. A casserole recipe typically contains all parts of a balanced meal-- vegetables, starches, dairy, and meat. Baked in one dish and sometimes topped with crumbled potato chips, panko, or nuts. Casseroles are the perfect dish for busy home cooks or anyone feeding a hungry crowd.
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With casseroles, unlike, say meatloaf, you can use a variety of pan sizes-- from square to round or the most commonly used 9x13 inch rectangular dish. You may want to have a variety of baking dishes in your kitchen cupboards so you can make larger casseroles for bigger crowds, or if you're going to have leftovers, and smaller ones if you’re not cooking for a large crowd or if you’re trying a new experimental recipe. Browsing images of various casserole dishes will help you get some ideas for the size of pan you'd like to use, both for even baking and for the sake of presentation. You can choose from a massive list of cuisine types for your casserole dish-- Mexican, Middle-Eastern, vegetarian, the list is extensive!
Casseroles bases are often noodles, potatoes, or other starches. This is then combined with cooked meat, either ground beef, pork, chicken, tuna, turkey, or seafood. Tying it all together is a cheese or cream sauce.
Making a casserole is not an exact science, so feel free to tweak the recipe as you see fit. There are an endless number of combinations you can use when making a casserole. There are casserole recipes for every type of meat and cut of meat, as well as cheese and other additions. Seafood casseroles are also a crowd pleaser, with the most well-known being tuna casserole.
You can also make casseroles with fish and shellfish, such as the highly rated cajun shrimp casserole on Yummly. For vegetarians, you can use black beans, sweet potato puree, a colorful rice mixture or layer several plant-based ingredients. Favorite vegetarian casseroles include quinoa casserole and sweet potato casserole. For the creamy and/or cheese mixture that helps hold a casserole together, there are a number of options.
Some casseroles use canned creamed soups, shredded cheese, a cheese sauce, a homemade roux, broth, wine, beer, cider or a mix of several liquids. Popular vegetables to put in casserole include broccoli or peas, but again, you can let your creativity flow and create unique flavors with a variety of vegetables. Try leeks, fennel or asparagus for a unique and slightly more gourmet casserole. Or, experiment by tossing in whatever fresh, seasonal vegetables you find at your local farmers’ market.
Since the casserole is packed full of so many ingredients, you’ll want to cook the meat and the starch before adding it to the casserole. Adding raw meat or raw potato, for instance, to a casserole mixture would take a long time to cook and may not fully cook at all, especially if the casserole is very dense. Always fully cook the rice before adding it to a casserole. Casseroles can be a main dish or a side dish, depending on what you want to put into it.
If you’re entertaining, a vegetable casserole can be an impressive side dish alongside a rack of lamb, roasted chicken, or grilled steak. Rice casserole, broccoli casserole, or hash brown casserole are also welcome additions to any meal. We’re all familiar with the classic casseroles-- the Thanksgiving staple green bean casserole, tuna noodle casserole, chicken casserole, and shepherd's pie casserole. But there are many other delicious combinations! Whichever casserole style you prefer-- classic American comfort food, gourmet or meaty, Yummly has many easy casserole recipes for you to choose from to create a delicious dinner.
Origins of Casserole
Casseroles are typically thought of as casual, comfort food-- not a dish you would make for a fancy dinner party. But it’s time the lowly casserole gets the respect it deserves. The word casserole comes from the French word cassoulet, which you may have seen in French cookbooks or on French menus. It's a dish that's been around for quite some time. A cassoulet is a meat and bean dish slow cooked in an earthenware vessel originating from the south of France. It was originally a meal for peasants, like so many famous and loved French classics. Just like tuna casserole in the states, there are also many variations of cassoulet. While cassoulet is delicious (you can find some excellent cassoulet recipes on Yummly), it’s very different from casserole. The cassoulet evolved once it was brought to the U.S. and today many one-pot recipes exist.
Putting meat, starches, and veggies into a pan or pot and baking it all together is not a recent idea. There have been recipes that are similar to modern casseroles since ancient times, proving that people have always loved a good one pot meal. You can find variations of casserole all over the world: Italian lasagna, Mexican chicken enchiladas, Greek moussaka, and bobotie from South Africa, for instance. There is also, strata, or breakfast casserole, and bread pudding, which is a casserole-style dessert. We might be able to pinpoint the rise in popularity of casserole in the U.S. to 1947 when President Harry Truman gave his first televised address to the American public. He asked them to reduce their food consumption, particularly of meat, eggs, and poultry on specific days of the week to provide food for Europeans recovering and rebuilding from World War II. His wife, Bess Truman, shared the recipe for her tuna noodle casserole-- one of the most popular casseroles today.
Casserole Cooking Times
Most casseroles will need to bake for sometime between 40-60 minutes. The exact time will depend on how quickly your oven bakes and the thickness of the casserole.
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