Design Your Own
In this article, I will explain how to design your own casserole, using the ingredients you love best.
Casseroles and goulash can be thought of as dishes where you can use up leftovers as well. Goulash, to my mind, includes noodles, tomatoes, and meat. I like to add sauteed mushrooms. So it is somewhat more restrictive than a casserole, but there is still room for variation.
I will show you how to make a casserole that can be made in the microwave. It takes about ten minutes. If you prefer to make it in the oven or on the stovetop, you can, but don't think that making it in the microwave is necessarily less healthy. In fact, the jury is still out on that one. Yes, the microwave heats and excites the molecules in the food. So does regular cooking. Yes, the ingredients are changed by this process. They are also changed with regular cooking. But my experience is with the microwave, so that is what I will explain.
To make your casserole, choose ingredients your family loves, and choose quantities that they are likely to eat in one meal, or if you want to cook for two meals, double the recipe. (Note: I am not suggesting you freeze the leftovers. I don't know how well that would work, since I have never tried it. Instead, plan on serving the remainder in a couple of days, or eating it for lunch.) Keep in mind that with baking, quantities of ingredients must be accurate. With a casserole, that is not at all necessary!
I omit onions because I am allergic to them, but if you like them and everyone can tolerate them, by all means, use them. They will definitely add flavor.
The image is licensed under creative commons, but I have no additional information.
Some notes on ingredients
I have included some ingredients I don't normally use. This includes peas and tomatoes. Most of these are outright vegetables, but tomatoes are actually a fruit.
Notice I did not include edamame. The reason is because these are fresh soybeans, and soybeans are actually not good for you. I also did not include any ingredients that have a genetically engineered version. I included only healthful ingredients. Unfortunately, cheese from cows that haven't been fed GMOs is hard to come by, and I personally haven't yet started avoiding this. You may want to use only organic cheese.
If you use any kind of oil, fat, whatever, use only one of the following: butter, coconut oil. You can add olive oil after cooking, but it should not be cooked IN the casserole.
Nuts and seeds really shouldn't be cooked, so add them at the last minute. Chia seeds can be sprinkled on top of the melted cheese.
I included meat. While I know many people reading this are vegetarians, meat contains some important nutrients found nowhere else. If you prefer to add boiled egg slices, that's OK, too.
If you include mushrooms, their flavor will be greatly increased if you saute them in real butter first. This will add to cooking time, and should be done on the stove. I usually use canned mushrooms. Adding butter and cheese seems to help bring out their flavor.
- vegetables, choose from:
- palm hearts
- artichoke hearts
- meat, choose from:
- chunked chicken
- canned tuna fish
- canned salmon
- seasonings, choose from:
- Italian herbs
- starch, optional:
- nuts and seeds, optional, choose from:
- chia seeds
- sunflower seeds
- fried onion rings
- Using frozen vegetables, cook these in a large glass bowl. If your microwave will choose cooking time successfully, allow it to do so. Lengthen or shorten the time to your taste. If using garlic, add it when cooking the vegetables.
- If using starch, cook this separately, and add it to the cooked vegetables.
- Drain all canned ingredients.
- Add meat to the vegetables.
- Place your chosen herbs in the palm of your hand, and use the heel of the other hand to crush them, to release flavor. Add to the casserole.
- Mix everything together. Add nuts and seeds, or add them on top of melted cheese.
- Pile on a bunch of grated cheese. Remember, grated cheese melts down a lot, so add plenty. Place back in the microwave and heat until cheese is melted. Serve.
Debate about Casseroles
Do you make casseroles?
Some Good Casserole Cookbooks I Found on Amazon
The Ultimate Casseroles Book: More than 400 Heartwarming Dishes from Dips to Desserts (Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate)
by Better Homes and Gardens
The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever
by Beatrice Ojakangas
The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin' in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes
by Crystal Cook, Sandy Pollock
This Casserole for My Family
Several years ago, I visited my family halfway across the country. The people present were my mother, my sister and her husband and their youngest son, and of course, myself. Since I was staying there two weeks, I volunteered to do some of the cooking.
One night, I fixed this casserole. Partly we used what we had on hand, and partly I told them what to buy at the grocery store.
Our finished casserole had salmon, broccoli, palm hearts, mushrooms, basmati rice, and cheese.
It was a great hit.
My mother said, "I didn't know you could cook."
That was downright hilarious because when I was growing up, I was never allowed to do anything in the kitchen besides peel potatoes, so obviously I didn't learn to cook by doing it when I was growing up. But I watched my mother, and after I got married, I figured out a few things on my own. My style of cooking has never been based on following recipes religiously, or on the exact quantity of ingredients.
To the best of my recollection, even my brother-in-law liked it. That is quite an accomplishment. He hates eating healthy.
Several weeks later, my sister wrote an email and said that she had served the casserole and people liked it.
My sister seems to be a person who depends heavily on recipes. I had to teach her how to make the casserole. I am not aware that she ever invented any dishes of her own, though I could stand corrected.
How about it?
If you find this article liberating, I am happy. Inventiveness makes eating interesting and worthwhile. There is no need to slavishly follow recipes. Make up some of your own. Then if your church publishes a cookbook of favorite recipes of the congregation, you will have something to contribute. :)