The casserole has long been a favorite American dish, even though the word is French in origin. Casseroles are easy to bake because you simply add all the ingredients to a casserole pan and bake it in the oven. They come out hot and ready to serve. You know that friends and relatives bring casseroles for all types of events—potlucks, picnics, holidays, and even in times of mourning—because they can be frozen and reheated at a later date.
You can find literally hundreds of casserole recipes in cookbooks and online because there are so many varied ingredients you can use, be they meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, pasta, or eggs. What keeps casseroles from being a conglomerated mess of ingredients is the sauce, soup, or starchy potato that holds it all together. Melt cheese on top, and you have a mouth-watering, hearty dish perfect for chilly winter days.
While baking a casserole is fairly easy, there are some tips you can remember to improve the taste and ensure that it stays fresh for a long time should you choose to freeze it.
Baking and Serving Tips
- You can top a casserole with more than just cheese. Try bacon bits, French-fried onions, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, crumbled potato chips, and chopped nuts.
- Garnish a casserole for extra flavor and visual appeal. Use tomato wedges, olives, shredded cheese or lettuce, fresh herbs, or green onions. Hard boil an egg in advance and add the slices.
- If you’re looking for healthy alternatives, try low-fat soups or sauces and go easy on the cheese.
Freezing and Reheating Tips
- Don’t leave casseroles uneaten in the freezer for more than 2 months.
- You can freeze a casserole uncooked or cooked. If you cook it first, let the casserole cool to room temperature before sealing it in an air-tight bag it and putting it in the freezer.
- Label frozen casseroles with a description and the freezing date.
- When you decide to reheat it, let the casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Or, cook it extra long in the oven and stick a knife in the center to see if it’s thawed all the way.
Many people have learned how to maximize their grocery purchases by preparing large meals and freezing portions for later. With some thoughtful planning and preparation, you can cut down your cooking time and grocery bills and still avoid eating out too often.
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