Cooking up a Storm

Make a healthy casserole this winter!

 

Meal planning can be made easier during the winter months in New Hampshire, by preparing a casserole for dinner. Casserole is a French word for "saucepan," and like the French cassoulet, it refers to any recipe baked in the dish of which it shares its name. In a casserole, a variety of starches, meats and vegetables can be combined and baked together to create a healthy and satisfying family meal. Casseroles are a great way to combine leftover ingredients into a single dish or stretch a small amount of protein into a full meal.      

 

Here are directions on how to make your own casserole, which will provide about 6 servings.  You can select food(s) from each category or use your own favorites. Combine the ingredients in a buttered 2 or 2 1/2-quart casserole dish.  Cover and bake at 350 F for about 50 minutes to 1 hour or microwave using 50% power for about 15 to 30 minutes, rotating or stirring as needed.

 

Starch - choose ONE:

  • 2 cups uncooked pasta (macaroni, penne, spiral, bow tie), COOKED
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white or brown rice, COOKED
  • 4 cups uncooked noodles, COOKED

 

Protein - choose ONE:

  • 2 cups cooked ground beef
  • 2 cups cooked and diced chicken, turkey, ham, beef or pork
  • 2 cups chopped hard-cooked egg
  • 2 (6 to 8-oz.) cans fish or seafood, flaked
  • 2 cups cooked or canned dry beans, such as kidney beans

 

Vegetable - choose ONE:

  • 1 (10-oz.) pkg. thawed and drained frozen spinach, broccoli, green beans or green peas
  • 1 (16-oz.) can green beans, peas, carrots or corn, drained
  • 2 cups sliced fresh zucchini

 

Sauce - choose ONE:

  • 2 cups white sauce or 1 can sauce-type soup (mushroom, celery, cheese, tomato, etc.) mixed with milk to make 2 cups
  • 1 (16-oz.) can diced tomatoes with juice

 

Flavor - choose ONE or MORE:

  • 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chopped onion or 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons mixed dried leaf herbs (such as basil, thyme, marjoram, tarragon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Topping- choose ONE or MORE (optional):

If desired after heating, place on top:

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Swiss, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup buttered breadcrumbs

 

Return casserole with topping(s), uncovered, to oven for about 10 minutes more or to microwave for about 2 minutes more.