The Great Debate: Do Casseroles Deserve a Place at Our Dining Tables? Here Are Two Takes
Sounds innocuous enough.
So why are people so divided on casseroles? Poll any group, and you're bound to find both people who love casseroles and people who cannot stand them. We found such a divide in our own newsroom, so we decided to nominate one pro-casserole person and one anti-casserole person to duke it out.
Which side are you on?
Pro-casserole by Molly Dunn
Photo by Steven Depolo This sausage scrambled egg casserole is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Growing up, I always craved a hearty shepherd's pie on cold winter nights. There's something about a warm helping of mashed potatoes with ground beef, carrots, peas, onions and cheese that could always warm my heart and my stomach.
Casseroles, or hotdishes (for those from the north), have stood the test of time. While food trends and culinary styles have progressed and changed each year, casseroles are still popular dishes among families, households and the community.
A casserole is one of the easiest ways to welcome someone to the neighborhood, lend a helping hand during a rough patch in someone's life, or simply feed a bunch of hungry mouths any night of the week. Pasta, chicken, ground beef, potatoes, rice, vegetables and everything else in between can be made into a casserole. No need to worry about picky eaters: There's something for everyone. Casseroles are one of the most popular items brought to family gatherings, picnics, funerals and potluck lunches. And there's a reason (actually, several) why people love them.
First and foremost, a casserole is a simple dish to make, and easy to prepare in advance. For those who don't have time to prepare a full dinner for their family when they get home from work, a casserole is their saving grace. Assemble it the night before and pop in the oven when you get home -- dinner is ready in a snap.
Take, for instance, shepherd's pie. Simply brown the beef in a skillet, add the vegetables, tomatoes and seasoning, place the mixture into a casserole dish, cover with mashed potatoes and cheese, then bake for just 15 minutes. Voilà! You have a hearty, comforting and scrumptious casserole. You'll get several servings out of one dish and will still have some for leftovers.
While some people instantly think of tuna noodle casserole as the stereotypical "casserole dish," they don't realize that many of their favorite dishes are in fact casseroles -- the word "casserole" doesn't need to be in the title for a dish to be considered one, you know. Lasagna, mac and cheese, chicken potpie and enchiladas are all casseroles.
Photo by Meaghan O'Malley You want Italian? Oh yeah, there's a casserole for that.
Your favorite celebrity chefs also have sophisticated versions of classic casserole dishes, such as Alton Brown's Curry Chicken Pot Pie or Emeril Lagasse's Twice Baked Potato Casserole. Each of these uses real ingredients; no condensed soups here.
Casseroles are also not limited to dinner; they can be made for breakfast and dessert. Scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage and cheese sitting on top of an English muffin or biscuit halves make for a perfect breakfast casserole. The individual servings from each English muffin or biscuit half makes things easy for large families or social gatherings. Desserts can also easily be made in a casserole form. Use a large casserole dish or small individual dishes for bread pudding, cobbler and upside-down cake or molten lava chocolate cake.
While casseroles are easy-to-make, comforting money-savers and come in a variety of forms, the most important reason they're wonderful is their ability to bring families and friends together.
For those of you in favor of casseroles, what are your favorite recipes?