During Medieval Times, pies were similar to casseroles. Their contents were wrapped in thick pie crusts often called coffins. The word casserole entered the English language in 1708. Other cultures had their own forms of casseroles. In Morocco, the tagine was and is both the name container and the combination of ingredients.
The word casserole actually comes from the old French word casse. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, casserole cookery was popular in rural homes where a fire was burning all day and could be used for slow and long cooking methods. For years, casseroles were developed by the English and the French. Rice was molded into the shape of a dish and filled with a savory meat mixture. Later, borders of rice or mashed potatoes were placed on dishes of fricassee or curry. By the end of the 1800s, the word came to describe a meat dish combined with vegetables and stock. The word was actually used as a verb, but in her 1930 book, Strong Poison, Dorothy Sayers said, “It seems a shame to casserole a chicken when it would have roasted beautifully.” Casseroles during the Great Depression and certainly during wartimes were created to stretch foods or to use leftovers in a creative way. The notion of placing a whole roasted chicken on the table seems most unlikely to me!
There are zillions of casserole recipes online. If you have an ingredient you need to use up, google it and you’ll find a casserole recipe for it. I’m going to share a couple of my favorites today, and they are easy!
Cook the pasta and drain it. Brown the ground beef and the chopped onion until the beef is done. If you want to use fresh mushrooms, slice them and cook them along with the beef. In a big bowl, combine all the ingredients. Pour this into a large casserole dish; cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. You can divide this into smaller casseroles. Adjust the baking time.
Stir together the first eight ingredients on the list! You’ve made a short version of baked beans! Put these in a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish. Add the wieners to the top of the beans. If you use hotdogs, you can cut them in pieces or leave them whole. Mix the cornbread according to the package directions and drop the batter over the hotdogs and beans. You can sprinkle the top with shredded cheddar if you’d like. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes … until the cornbread is browned, and the beans are bubbling. Serve it with a salad or a relish tray! It’s good!
Boil and drain the pasta. Brown the ground beef or sausage with the onion and bell pepper until the meat is done. Let the meat cool slightly, then mix the pasta, meat and spaghetti sauce together. Make a couple layers of this in a 13 x 9 casserole dish and put the mozzarella cheese on top of each layer. Finish the casserole with the parmesan cheese (the kind in the green box) on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Take the foil off and bake another 10 minutes so the cheeses brown. All you need is a nice salad … and maybe a ‘hunk’ of garlic bread … and you have a fantastic easy meal!