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A little of this, a little of that, and you have a casserole

So often, my husband and I try to figure out what to fix on Sunday that will last us at least a couple of days. Rotisserie chicken is versatile and makes a number of meals.

So does a pot roast or a Boston Butt in the slow cooker, maybe meatloaf. Then we figure out what sides we’ll have. What did we find at the Farmers Market?

But, since we’re into September, it seems like it should be time for a trusty casserole, even if it is still 90 degrees outside. My mother did not like casseroles. Tuna casserole with peas was as far as we went.

But where would the potluck be without the casserole? What would Southern Thanksgiving be without green bean casserole? How can you have homecoming without squash casserole and chicken casserole and that casserole with the cabbage?

I found some sort of familiar dishes with little tweaks that made them something new. And for busy households, a casserole can be a lifesaver, and a way to sneak veggies into the diet.

This casserole sounded like a good one to last a few days and it has some of our favorite things — black beans, spinach and sweet potatoes.

We used a V-slicer to slice the sweet potatoes about 1/16th of an inch thick. We could have made potato chips with them.

We followed the directions, and added about half a pound of cooked andouille sausage with the beans. Two things we noted: 40 minutes does not cook the sweet potatoes tender. One hour, and the sweet potatoes were not crunchy, but slightly firm, and the casserole was almost like a stew or soup.

But it tasted very good. Maybe the sweet potato slices need to be par-boiled before putting in the casserole.

But we did discover that raw sweet potato slices are delicious, sort of like carrots, and would be good in a salad. We would make it again, because it’s easy and tastes good. And we halved the ingredients, since there’s just two of us.

5-Ingredient Enchilada Casserole

Cooking spray

2 cups enchilada sauce (16 oz.) divided

2 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large), unpeeled and thinly sliced (1/8-inch), divided

2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided

3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (9 ounces) divided

4 cups spinach or chopped Swiss chard (4 ounces), divided

Arrange rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange one-third of the sweet potato slices in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Distribute half of the beans, 1 cup of cheese, 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, and half the spinach or chard evenly over the sweet potato slices. Repeat the layers of sweet potato, beans, cheese, enchilada sauce and spinach or chard one more time. Finish with remaining sweet potatoes and enchilada sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake until sweet potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes (editor’s note: more like 1 hour). Uncover and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake until cheese melts and the casserole bubbles, about 5 more minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Top with sliced, cooked chicken, sliced avocado or chopped cilantro, or add cooked ground beef or sausage with the beans.

The kitchn

Here’s another filling and meatless casserole that can be done in the skillet. It would also be a healthier side for, say, Thanksgiving, where broccoli and rice casseroles rely on cream soups and white rice. This one will have more texture.

Broccoli, Cheese & Rice Casserole

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

8 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, stemmed and chopped

1 cup chopped yellow onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

2 (8.8) oz. package microwavable brown rice or 3 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup unsalted chicken broth

1/2 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

3 cups broccoli florets, cut in bite-size pieces

1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat broiler and position a rack 6-8 inches from the heat source. Melt butter in a large, high-sided ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onion, cook, stirring often, until browned and tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat and break up clumps.

Whisk broth, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in cornstarch. Add the mixture to the pan; stir to combine. Stir in broccoli; let mixture come to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until broccoli is bright green and tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat; sprinkle on cheese.

Transfer the skillet to the oven, broil until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Can be served as a side dish to grilled chicken or other meats.

Eating Well

Meatball Sub Casserole

1 pound ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large egg

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil

Cooking spray

1 baguette, sliced 3/4-inch thick

1/4 cup unsalted butter melted (1/2 stick)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella, divided

3 cups marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make meatballs by combining ground beef, 2 cloves of minced garlic, egg, bread crumbs and parsley. Stir together until just combined. Form 30 meatballs.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat about 2 tsp. oil. Cook meatballs, in two batches, until no pink remains, 5-6 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray, place baguette slices in an even later in the bottom of the dish. In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Brush over the sliced bread. Top with 1 cup mozzarella, a layer of marinara sauce, meatballs and the remaining mozzarella.

Bake until cheese melts, 12-15 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with a green salad.

Delish

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

12 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup buffalo sauce

1/4 cup ranch dressing

1/3 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded gouda

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a baking dish, toss cauliflower florets with oil oil and season with salt and pepper.

Bake until tender, 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, buffalo sauce, ranch, green onions and garlic powder until combined. Set aside.

Toss rotisserie chicken with roasted cauliflower in baking dish and spread cream cheese mixture on top.

Top with cheddar and gouda and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, 20 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve with another drizzle of ranch dressing, garnish with green onions and serve with celery and carrot sticks.

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