One of the quintessential comfort foods, the casserole is perfect for wintertime entertaining or a weekday dinner for two. Leftovers easily turn into lunch the next day, reheated and served with a salad. Casseroles also often take well to freezing, either after cooking or between assembling and baking, which can save time during a busy work week.
The word "casserole" comes from the French name of the large dish used both as a cooking and serving vessel. Also known as a "bake," especially in England, a casserole is now used to define a number of dishes including ragout, cassoulet, moussaka, lasagna, gratin and shepherd's pie. The difference between a stew and a casserole comes from the fact that a casserole is baked in an oven, with heat applied evenly all around the cooking dish.
Veggie, Beef and Pasta Bake by Jan Main: Since the pasta in this recipe doesn't need to be precooked, you can cut down on prep and cleanup time. This casserole freezes well for up to three months, so it's worth keeping one on hand for an easy dinner.
Moussaka by Susanna Hoffman: This Greek dish is made with layers of eggplant and ground beef or lamb cooked in a special mixture of herbs and spices, and a white sauce not unlike the French béchamel.
Nutted Chicken-Rice Noodle Casserole by James Beard: This classic casserole, much like chicken tetrazzini, consists of rice noodles topped with poached chicken in a creamy sauce and a crunchy layer of toasted almonds.
Chicken-Filled Enchiladas With Tangy Tomatillo Sauce by Rick Bayless: Shredded chicken breast is combined with onions and sour cream for a filling that pairs with the tomatillo sauce that blankets corn tortillas in this traditional enchilada. Crumbled Mexican cheese called queso anejo finishes the dish.
Quinoa Casserole by Stephanie O'Dea: Quinoa might be a food you've been trying to incorporate more into your diet this year. This slow-cooker "casserole" includes cherry tomatoes, baby spinach and feta cheese for a fresh aspect not usually characteristic of casseroles.