Saturday, April 17, 2010

Something's Rotten in the State of Casserole

I think of casseroles as the ultimate comfort food. I have been battling a nasty sinus cold this week, and it hasn't been soup that I have been craving. No, it has been casserole. It doesn't matter if it is made from pasta, rice, quinoa, panko, or day old bread--to me it represents warm, embracing, goodness. Just mix a ton of veggies and some starch and some moisture and pop it in the oven and poof! Instant yummyness. Plus, it is an excellent way to use up little leftover bits of vegetables crowding the fridge.

I have a couple of old stand by recipes, but this week I decided to delve into Gourmet's latest cookbook- Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen -and let me tell you, there is not one official casserole recipe in the whole stinking book. What is so wrong with the word casserole? They use words like "stratas" or even "bakes" but the word casserole must ring in as too old fashioned to use in such a contemporary read like Gourmet. Only problem is that you have to dig through the 1000's of recipes to find a casserole that is hidden under a fancy name and requires more prep and ingredients than one would think humanly possible, and then I just sigh and shut the book and make one of my old stand bys instead.

Casseroles are not passe and they do not have to be flavorless or remind you of dinner at Aunt Bessie's. Granted, they might not always look exceptionally elegant, but I suppose you could cook them in little molds and then serve them with a little vinaigrette on top, but then you wouldn't have a casserole any more--you would have a strata or bake, I guess. So what exactly happened that made casseroles so unfashionable? Or is it a sign that I am getting old that I yearn for the humble casserole?

Broccoli Casserole (pictured directly above)
Adapted from the Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper

6 slices hearty bread, cut into bite size pieces. (I like to use Asiago Bread from our local grocer.)
4 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/3 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup shredded white cheddar
1/4 cup parmesano-reggiano
1 small head broccoli, chopped fine
2 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter or cooking spray a 9 X 13 baking dish. Spread bread pieces out in pan.

Melt butter in medium saute pan. When all melted, pour half in mixing bowl. Put pan back over medium-low heat. Add onions and saute 5 minutes and then add garlic and cook 5 more minutes. You want the onions nicely melted, but not turning brown at all. Remove from heat.

In mixing bowl with melted butter add eggs and milk and mix well. Then add cheeses and mix again. Finally, add onion and garlic mix, broccoli, and green onions. Mix well and pour on top of bread.

Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes. Take foil off for the last ten minutes.

Serves 4.


  1. I always associate casseroles with goopy canned cream of mushroom (or chicken) condensed soup -- bad childhood memories I suppose. Your recipe sounds so tasty I'll have to give it a try.

  2. I'm sorry but anything (other than a dessert) that you put in a pan and bake in the oven is to me a casserole and there's nothing wrong with that!!! So soothing :) Hope you feel better soon!