Every Kind of Casserole

By Leda Meredith

Casseroles were one of those things that my mother knew how to make which I somehow never learned. So I invented the useful culinary term “Crumble”, as in, “No, dear, this isn’t supposed to be a tuna casserole – it’s a tuna crumble.”

However, I don’t give up that easily. Reading between the lines of many recipes in old cookbooks, I came up with this basic casserole formula that works very well for whatever ingredients you have on hand. It is especially useful for using up leftovers in an appealing way. I sometimes cook twice as much rice or pasta as I know I’ll need for a meal because I already have plans to turn it into casserole the following night.

This is a classic rich, creamy casserole that holds together well in thick slices. Save the “crumble” for some other night.

For every 9-inch casserole dish you will need:

* 1 cup milk
* 3 eggs, beaten
* 1 cup bread crumbs
* 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar works well)

Butter the casserole dish and sprinkle half the breadcrumbs on the bottom and sides. Fill with layers of cooked pasta, beans or rice alternating with grated cheese and cooked meat and/or vegetables (excellent way to use up leftovers!). Beat together the eggs and milk. Pour over other ingredients. Top with the rest of the bread crumbs. Dot with butter. Cover and bake in a moderate (350) oven for 30-40 minutes until golden on top (you can remove the cover during the last 10 minutes if you like a crunchy top). Serve with a bit of minced fresh parsley on top. This is just as good reheated the next day.

For a rich flavor, mix two teaspoons of Fines Herbes blend or half tablespoon of Verdurette in with the milk and eggs mixture. If your leftovers are on the bland side, dice an onion and saute it in a little olive oil. Include that as one of the layers in your casserole. I choose to leave out salt and pepper and let each person add theirs according to preference.

Vegetables that work well in casseroles include mushrooms, onions, greens (spinach, chickweed, lamb’s quarters, kale, etc.), green beans, cauliflower and broccoli.

Leda Meredith writes about her passions – plants, cooking, dance, theater, travel – and shares the many ways she has found to include them all in her busy urban life.

Leda’s full biography can be found at the foot of any of her many wonderful dance articles here in the-vu.

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