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Casseroles: The ultimate customer food

By Rebecca Turner

Casseroles: The ultimate customer food

Search online for a casserole recipe, and you’ll discover an avalanche of options. You’ll find curated lists of casseroles that showcase the best, the easiest, and the most family-friendly, to name a few. There is a casserole option for every meal of the day, including dessert and side dishes galore. Unlike other recipes, casseroles alone can feed the whole family, can be frozen for later, or delivered to a neighbor in need.

Casseroles got the name from the French word that describes the large pan with a glass top often used to cook them. At its core, a casserole is a one-pan dish made from starch or grain, meat, and vegetables. Most recipes call for some form of dairy to add texture and creaminess from milk, whipping cream, cheese, butter, or all of the above. Despite the French term, slow-cooked, layered dishes can be found in cultures and cuisines across the globe. Nevertheless, every good Southern home has a go-to casserole recipe and is always on the hunt for more.

You can reduce waste by preparing a standard-sized casserole and pouring it into two smaller dishes. Cook one and freeze (or share) the other. And, when gifting a casserole, go ahead and attach the recipe. You know they will want it!

 

Cheeseburger Casserole

INGREDIENTS

1 pound lean ground beef

ó cup chopped onion

1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

1 medium tomato chopped

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

ó teaspoon seasoned salt  ⁄  teaspoon pepper

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-x8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray set aside.

Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium heat, until beef is browned, and onion is soft; drain.

Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain. Spoon macaroni into the prepared pan and spread beef mixture and chopped tomato on top.

Pour tomato sauce over beef and sprinkle with seasoned salt, if desired, and pepper.

Top it with cheese and cover loosely with foil; bake for 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges of casserole are bubbling.

 

Meat Free Italian Pasta Casserole

INGREDIENTS

3-4 cups of cooked pasta (any style)

1 jar of pasta sauce (or use homemade)

1 small bag of shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 container of fresh sliced mushrooms

1 yellow squash

1 zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

Wash and quarter your squash into even pieces. Add prepared vegetables and mushrooms to the baking dish and season with 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning and sprinkle with salt (optional).

Add in cooked pasta and pour pasta sauce over the mixture.

Generously cover the top with shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and the vegetables have softened.

 

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

INGREDIENTS

1 large eggplant sliced into 1/2” thick rounds

3 large eggs

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup shredded Parmesan divided

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper

1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/3 cups thinly sliced basil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the baking sheet(s) with parchment paper and cover with nonstick spray.

In a bowl, whisk together breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

In another bowl, whisk eggs.

Dip eggplant into the egg wash, allow excess to drip off. Then coat with the parmesan mixture over each side of the eggplant slice. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat to coat all eggplant slices.

Spray tops lightly with cooking spray.

Bake until soft inside, and golden and crisp on the outside, about 30 minutes, flipping around the 15-minute mark.

In a baking dish (8x8 or 9x11), add 1 cup of marinara and spread evenly. Add an even layer of baked eggplant slices. Add another 1 cup of sauce and spread evenly over eggplant slices. Add 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup of the remaining Parmesan and 1/4 cup fresh basil. Top with another layer of baked eggplant slices and spread on the remaining 1 cup of sauce. Top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan, and remaining fresh basil.

*You can certainly add more cheese if you prefer!

Bake, uncovered, until the top is bubbly and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

 

Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.

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