For me, the word “casserole” evokes memories of books rather than childhood meals. We weren’t a casserole-type household, but mentions of casseroles popped up all the time in my reading. I was intrigued, mostly because casseroles seemed like something from other, magical cultures.
Of course, now I know that casseroles aren’t all that exotic. Basically, it’s a meal — protein, veggies, starches (in any combination you wish) — cooked in an oven. This differs from stews, which are usually cooked on the top of a stove.
Recently, we had dinner out, and I was delighted by the menu at the restaurant (Story Tavern in Burbank, CA, should you find yourself in my neck of the woods). It was basically gluten-free heaven. Our server told me she’d been diagnosed with celiac 11 years earlier, and that I would eat safely that night.
It’s been so long since I had an entire menu of choices that I admit I was overwhelmed. Then I focused on three items: the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy; the shepherd’s pie; and the macaroni and cheese. Since I was going on a long bike ride the next day, I decided to pretend not to see the GF veggie burger.
- Shepherd’s pie and mac ‘n cheese dishes are classic casseroles, and they are so easy to make at home. Whenever I have leftover mashed potatoes, I toss together seasoned ground meat (or, for variety, go ahead and use chunks of braised meat), diced vegetables, and a gravy. I like to use Alton Brown’s recipe because it’s delicious and customizable. Just swap out the regular flour for GF all-purpose flour or use rice flour.
- I’ve been making macaroni and cheese for my book club for years. It’s a popular dish, and my book club has been awesome about tasting my experiments. It turns out mac ‘n cheese is never perfected!
- Lately, however, I’ve been wondering about other casseroles, including one I’ve never had: tuna casserole. Later this week, I’ll likely be using this recipe from Derek on Cast Iron as a starting point.
- For Thanksgiving, of course, I cannot resist making a green bean casserole. And it turns out my family cannot resist the little crispy onions I use to top the casserole. I eventually had to hide them from my husband.
- Looking around the world, it strikes me that traditional biryanis are also casseroles. I am in love with Madhur Jaffrey’s biryani, though I will warn you that it is very labor intensive. If you’re not in the mood to practice patience, read through the recipe a few times, and you’ll note ways to reduce the time spent preparing this dish.
- Another great — and leftover friendly — casserole comes in the form of enchiladas. You can roll your tortillas, or stack them, alternating layers of filling, sauce, and cheese, like a lasagna.
Any favorite casseroles you’d like to share?
Tip of the Week
Finally, while not a casserole, this recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring is a household standby. Nicole Hunn lays out recipes for cream of chicken, mushroom, and potato soups. These are great recipes to have in your back pocket when the urge to make a casserole strikes!
Menu of the Week
As mentioned above, I love to make macaroni and cheese for parties and other gatherings. It’s easy and kid friendly! Because gluten-free pastas tend to absorb the sauce like sponges, I use extra in this dish. And, yes, the veggies are just to pretend we’re all into eating healthy. We all know you’ll “forget” them!
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Steamed Vegetables