September 29, 2010
A casserole is a dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. It also refers to the food cooked and served in said vessel. So, how did the casserole get such a bad rap? I suppose it shares the connotations that I reserve for 'crock pot' and 'slow cooker' cooking: random, messy, unthoughtful and thrown together. Ah, but we're all wrong. I mean, I only want to make casseroles! Cooked and served in the same dish?! Genius for entertaining. Can always be made ahead of time? Check! Way ahead of time? Frozen? Yup. A simple salad completes the meal? Indeed. So I started redefining what a casserole is for me with this fresh, spicy, end-of-the-summer vegetable lasagna. One layer of each component, sandwiched between 'no-boil' lasagna noodles, takes away all of the 'lasagna is such an effort' drama. My layers: spicy marinara; ricotta mixed with egg and parsley; noodles; and a saute of zucchini, garlic, yellow squash, swiss chard and carrots. I was nervous that my casserole lacked a 'wow factor' until greg asked, " Is there bacon in this?" No...but I can't think of a higher compliment.