Friday, 21 February 2014

Easy kitchen: The no-brainer casserole

I was technically born as a lazy person. So, naturally I try to accomplish everything with the least effort possible.
Cooking is no exception.

I am neither Jamie Oliver nor Gordon Ramsay, but I share their love for food and this casserole is perfect for everyone who enjoys a warm, comforting dish without having to work his ass off for it. You will end up with a creamy sauce, a crusty layer on top and all that goodness that makes you forget whatever is bothering you at the moment!

You'll need:

  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • pasta of your choice
  • veggies (either frozen or fresh, it does not matter, I used peas and spinache)
  • about 350 ml of cream
  • cheese and breadcrumbs to top it off
  • butter
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg
  • optional: a dash of white wine, broth
Let's start:

1. Chop up the onion and the garlic cloves and heat them up in a pan with a bit of oil until they are translucent. In the meantime, place your pasta and the veggies into the casserole.

Note: Be careful not to let your garlic and onions brown, otherwise they will taste a little bit bitter. 

This casserole is pretty small, so you might have to adjust the recipe for the sauce depending on the size of your casserole

2. Once the onions are translucent, add your cream. I used a 250ml can, then filled it with water and added the water to the mixture. The sauce is the most important part of this dish and you need plenty of it!

3. Now on to seasoning:
Add salt, pepper and nutmeg according to your liking. I also put in a dash of white wine and half a teaspoon of vegetable broth. Let the sauce simmer a little bit to thicken. Finish it up with a bit of butter.

4. Cover your pasta and the veggies with the sauce and make sure everything is coated. Since the pasta and veggies are still raw, you need the sauce to "cook" them. Also, you do not want your casserole to be dry, do you?  Top it off with plenty of cheese and a thin layer of breadcrumbs for the perfect crust.

As you can see, it is almost not enough sauce this time. You have to be way more generous, but was still alright in the end.

5. Put it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. In the meantime you can clean up the mess you created.
Once the cheese and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, take out the casserole and enjoy!

This is what I call a perfect crust! Crunchy and cheesy and underneath the smooth mixture of pasta, veggies and sauce!

This recipe might not be ideal if you are in a rush, but it is extremly easy to make and can be changed in order to fit your taste or the ingredients in your pantry. You can try different variations of vegetables (for example cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, etc) or add some leftover chicken or salmon to it. However everything meat or fish related should be cooked or roasted to use in this dish.

Also, I always make a lot just for myself, so I have something left to eat the next day.
This casserole is perfect for days, when you have the time, but not the drive to cook.

And before I forget it: If you want to reheat the leftovers, place small chunks of butter on the top. That way the crust is less likely to get mushy. 

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