It's Pasta Week here on The Kitchn and you're in for an inspiring few days of casseroles, pastas recipes and ideas, and kitchen tips. But I thought we should kick things off the way so many good things begin: with soup.
Nothing is simpler or more classic than opening up a can of cream of tomato soup for lunch. So if you're going to make a homemade version, it had better be worth the extra bother. This recipe most decidedly is, although it's really not that much more work. Just chop up an onion, maybe a rib of celery, and open up a few cans of tomatoes. Splash in some milk and buzz it with a blender until smooth. That's it! But the taste difference between a bowl of this soup and the ubiquitous can is enormous.
What is summer cooking, to you? For me, it means keeping things as simple as possible. In the summertime, I want meals that come together in one big pot, easy to cook and easy to reheat later. I want meals that taste like the garden, fragrant with herbs and bright flavors. I want hands-off meals, so I can retire to the back porch with a cucumber gimlet while my supper cooks.
Well, this braised chicken dish fits all those requirements beautifully.
Do you make pasta salads? Or do they bring to mind visions of mushy pasta in a greasy slick of mayonnaise? Pasta salads can be some of the freshest, most summery foods in your repertoire, and they also are the perfect lunch food — they keep for days in the refrigerator and are a little meal all in themselves. Here's one from my own kitchen: A fresh salad tossed with olive oil, cauliflower, and bright green edamame.
They say the sense of smell is the biggest memory trigger, but I have to argue that the sense of taste is right up there. I present you with this evidence: the 1998 Super Bowl, my parent's living room, an over-sized cheese head (yes, a hat constructed of foam cheese) and a bowl of steaming chili, heaped with a generous dusting of sharp Wisconsin cheddar.
Today's winner in our Best Healthy Casseroles reader recipe contest is Julia from Washington D.C. Her lasagna was a special treat for me to make. Why? She cleverly bypasses the usual ricotta filling and instead purees butternut squash into a creamy, colorful sauce. This lasagna is layered up with this squash sauce, as well as browned mushrooms and tasty chard. It's absolutely delicious, and it is a healthier, lighter take on the lasagna we all know and love.
This recipe from my new cookbook, Not Your Mother's Casseroles, is perhaps the perfect expression of what I love about casseroles. It's quick and easy — a modern, lightened-up version of a "dump-and-mix" dish, where you open up a few cans and mix everything together. But it also has fresh flavors, lighter dairy, and — the best part — no pasta. Instead, protein-rich, toothsome chickpeas take center stage.
This was one of the first entries in our Best Healthy Casseroles contest, and I knew right away that it was a favorite. Why? Because I wanted to cook it immediately! This simple dish from reader Nancy takes just a few ingredients, and through the magic of the oven, transforms them into an aromatic dish of perfectly cooked rice studded with chicken and shiitake mushrooms, flavored with soy, ginger, and garlic.