Comfort foods can be messy. Delicious as they are, saucy, soupy and gooey dishes aren’t usually easy to transport either. Solve this problem by turning your favorite cozy meals into easy casseroles. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or wanting not-sad leftovers for work, these transportable, sliceable meals will not disappoint. Consider them the crème de la crème of casseroles.
When time is tight on busy weeknights, the key to easy, enjoyable mealtimes is taking advantage of what you already have. While some nights that may mean looking to a refrigerator full of groceries to put simple, ready-to-go ingredients to work, other times it could call for a bit of creativity in dressing up your pantry staples. Then there are the nights that it can be as simple as letting your past prep help. Enter the frozen casserole.
With a crispy breadcrumb blanket on top and a center of tender, garlic-laced veggies, hearty brown rice and a creamy, cheesy sauce, Food Network Kitchen’s Healthy Squash and Kale Casserole is a make-ahead beauty. It can be assembled up to two weeks before you want to eat it, so perhaps dedicate some time over the weekend to putting this big-batch pick together, and then freeze it for later. When you’re ready to eat, preparing it is as simple as covering it with foil and letting it bake.
Macaroni and cheese, hold the mac — that’s the idea behind this week’s We Asked, You Cooked dish: a top-rated Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese Casserole that’s garnered nearly 200 fan reviews on FoodNetwork.com. In place of the traditional pasta, the recipe swaps in better-for-you cauliflower for a lighter, vegetable-forward dish, but thanks to the creamy cheddar sauce, there’s no shortage of richness. As in weeks past, in true Food Network fan fashion you all answered the call in droves when we asked you to show us your food-photo skills by making this casserole and snapping a photo of it. We’ve scanned the submissions and narrowed it down to two entries that stopped us in mid-scroll. Read on below to find out who submitted our top picks.
From Cooking for Kishore: Pictured above
If you think winter thus far has been especially punishing and demoralizing, just know that all hope has not been lost. Even though the infamous groundhog left us in disappointment in our moment of need (6 more weeks of winter?!), there is still reason to keep trudging through the snow and slush with your chin up. In fact, if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that these times of meteorological despair require more than a quality winter coat to get you through; they call for a casserole leaving the oven in warm, stick-to-your-ribs splendor. If you’re searching for a beacon of hope in this frosty weather, these comforting casserole recipes are it.
Just like snow goes hand in hand with snow boots, broccoli and cheese are connected on a very real level. Combine the two for an ultra-comforting Broccoli and Orzo Casserole. Food Network Kitchen opts for mild, creamy Havarti cheese for its stellar melting tendencies and tops the finished product with buttery panko breadcrumbs for a crunchy finish.
Today kicks off the very first week of the annual Comfort Food Feast series. If you’re bundled in sweaters and scarves like many of us, can you think of a better way to greet January than with the comfort of a hot casserole? This week, serve your family hearty, crowd-pleasing casserole recipes that are just what the dead of winter calls for.
A heaping plate of cheesy spaghetti would be comforting on its own, but Ree Drummond’s Chicken Spaghetti is a baked pasta dish that leaves the oven nice and bubbly. Strewn with tender morsels of chicken and made even creamier with mushroom sauce, Ree’s dish is fixed with broken pieces of spaghetti so it’s extra-easy to eat.
Not long ago a Southern breakfast was a massive meal of eggs, grits, fried country ham or bacon and buttery biscuits. Rib-sticking breakfasts were a robust way to start a long day of hard work on the farm. This has changed; we don’t have the time for big breakfast productions. Doesn’t that sound like a whole lot of work?
This breakfast casserole of bread, sausage and cheese is bound with custard, almost like a savory bread pudding. It can be made the night before so you won’t find yourself groggy and in need of caffeine, camped in front of a hot skillet. The next morning, remove it from the fridge to take the chill off. Grab a cup of coffee and pop it in the oven. By the time the table is set, the family is assembled and you’re ready for your second cup, breakfast is ready! Read more
For holiday celebrations and weeknight dinners alike, mashed potatoes often take center stage when it comes to easy, family-friendly spud recipes, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As you’re planning mealtimes this weekend and even looking ahead to next month’s Thanksgiving feast, swap in sweet potatoes for traditional russets or Yukon golds. These brightly hued beauties surely shine when simply roasted, but they offer over-the-top flavor and indulgent richness when they’re turned into a casserole. Read on below to find some of Food Network’s favorite sweet potato casseroles from Tyler Florence, Trisha Yearwood, the Neelys and Anne Burrell.
Tyler deems simply roasted bananas his “secret weapon” in his easy-to-make Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Bananas with Honey (pictured above), as the fruits manage to “develop their natural sugar” while baking.
While some meals require you to make multiple components, casseroles are all-in-one beauties that have starch, vegetable and protein elements built in, so they’re go-to timesavers on hectic weeknights. When you’re considering which ingredients to combine in your casserole, think about which flavors you know work well together, like those in classic pasta dishes, or in tacos, enchiladas and burritos — they’ll likely shine in a casserole as well. Check out Food Network’s best-five casseroles with family-friendly beef as the focus and find top tips from Trisha Yearwood, Sunny Anderson, Rachael Ray and more chefs.
5. Beef and Bean Taco Casserole — Think of this big-batch dinner as a platter of deconstructed tacos, with a base and topping of crunchy tortilla chips and a hearty filling of cumin-laced ground beef and pinto beans.
4. Gwen’s Old-Fashioned Potato-Beef Casserole — The key to Trisha’s easy recipe lies in the prep work for her tender potatoes and cheesy ground beef. Trisha explains, “If they are still hot when you assemble the casserole, the baking time can be greatly reduced or even eliminated; simply brown the crumb topping under the broiler for a couple of minutes.”
Somewhere along the way when women were being “liberated” from the kitchen, processed and convenience foods became dinner du jour. One-pot casseroles became a go-to for many busy moms and families. One of my favorites growing up was Broccoli, Chicken and Rice Casserole. What’s not to love? It’s filling chicken and rice with creamy gravy, topped with cheese. It’s real down-home comfort.
Most often this indulgent casserole is made with frozen broccoli and a couple of familiar red-and-white cans of cream of mushroom soup. This version is made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. It takes just a smidgen more time, but the results are absolutely extraordinary. I’m pretty adamant that down-home comfort can be made without bags and boxes. The truth of the matter is that all too often those shortcuts aren’t really timesavers and they are packed with salt and food additives. I personally really like recipes with ingredients that you can pronounce and don’t need a degree in chemistry to decipher. That gives me a very deep, satisfying feeling of comfort.
Casseroles have gotten such a bad rap in recent years, dismissed with sneers about soup cans, that those who love casseroles (and who, secretly, doesn’t love a good casserole?) may have felt compelled to keep their comfort-food cravings to themselves.
Now, finally, casserole fans can come clean: The humble one-dish meal has found a champion to defend its honor and bring it the respect it needs.
New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark writes that the casserole, though cozy, is not, inherently, “dowdy in its DNA,” nor must it be “bland or one-note,” and it “does not have to contain even a single strand of melted cheese, or be dusted with crushed potato chips.”
In fact, she suggests, “The casserole can be nuanced and urbane, with room for fresh ingredients, clever details and a vivid palette of flavors,” adding that “there’s nothing wrong with baking assorted ingredients together in a dish” and that “when done just right, the elements merge in the oven’s heat, building on one another until the flavors unite into a delicious whole, preferably one with a golden top and appealingly moist center.”