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The Casserole

We love the mighty casserole, lots of eating all in one dish. But alas, I have only had luck with the full-fat variety; baked ziti or lasagna, or using white sauces, cheese or eggs as a binder.

Please - who has some ideas for substantial and low-cal/fat casserole dishes that are sure to please.



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  1. I have made casseroles using white sauces made with skim milk or fat free canned condensed milk. I still start with a roux of butter and flour but by not using cream, half n half, or whole milk, you're cutting out a lot of fat. There is really no discernable difference in taste. This is the only way I make my cheese sauces, basic white sauce, pesto cream sauces (except on special occasions).

    1 Reply
    1. re: krissywats

      I do the same thing but use half chicken stock and a little bit of milk.

    2. I have been making pot roast on the stove top for years - but finally bought a casserole dish with a lid and made it in the oven...I have NEVER had such moist or tender meat! My kids had 3 servings each!

      What I did was sear the meat on all sides, and put it in my new casserole dish with beef broth, carrots, onions and a little potato and cooked it on low heat for a couple of hours. It was AWESOME!

      I got the dish from an online store http://www.potshopofboston.com/cass.htm I only have the 2 quart casserole dish - so I had to cut my meat in half to make it fit - but cut the meat first and sear both pieces on all sides. I'm very happy with that!!!!

      1. I always really hated casseroles growing up (I think I thought they seemed like "poor people' food... and being one myself, I practiced avoidance...).

        As an adult, I have learned to love casseroles- especially as they allow me to drastically cut back on our meat consumption- a little goes a long way. Some of my favorites:

        Tamale Pie- beans, tomatoes, corn, possibly ground meat, topped with a quick polenta or cornmeal mush-type topping, bake.

        Moosewood-style Chiliquile Casserole: crunch up bought or homemade tortilla chips. Spread in dish, layer with leftover chili (especially black bean), cheese, veggies of choice, more chips. You can use baked chips to cut back on the fat. Bake briefly.

        Shepherd's pie: I often do this without meat, or with very limited meat- hearty root veggies in a mushroom gravy, topped with garlic mashed potatoes prepped with evaporated milk instead of cream or butter. I top with a little cheese to add to the richness before backing until brown and crusty.

        Colcannon- traditional Irish dish of cabbage/kale, mashed potatoes, ham or bacon, onions, chives. Cook, layer as you please.

        My favorite: layered bits of leftovers, odds and ends, and whatever was in the fridge. I often save or freeze things that appear not to have a good use, and they later find their way into a casserole, mixed with like items and topped with a quick cornbread, or savory biscuit topping, or mashed potatoes, or whatever's quick and on hand.

        1. Actually, I created a recipe over the phone for dinner last night which my very limited cooking skill DD made and it turned out great. She had defrosted a package of turkey cutlets, similar to veal cutlets or b/s chicken breast cutlets. Usually, I make a casserole with spaghetti sauce & parm cheese, but we were out of sauce.

          In large 10 in skillet, saute 1 diced onion & 3 pieces sliced celery in 1/2 stick of butter(could use olive oil or low fat margarine) till soft. In large mixing bowl, add 1/2 large bag of Pep Farm stuffing cubes, softened veggies and 3/4 cup chicken stock. Fresh mushrooms would have been nice but we opened 2 cans, liquid and all (need to go shopping!). Mix as for herb stuffing. In large, well gresed 9X13 casserole, layer cutlets in one row, season to taste (s&p, garlic, tarragon, paprika). Make sauce using 1 can low fat Cream of Mush soup, 1/2 cup low cal sour cream, 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1/4 cup white wine, s&p, stir well. Spread half of sauce over turkey cutlets, layer on stuffing. Bake in 375 oven for 35-40 min till bubbling, taking care to keep stuffing moist (might need a little more stock), and ensuring turkey is cooked through.

          If you want a gourmet version, use challah for stuffing and Bechamel or Veloute sauce.

          1. You might consider a polenta casserole somewhat similar to happybelly's post...I've made this one without the heavy cream (I subbed light sour cream mixed with milk) and I subbed in my own roasted poblanos for the canned green chiles...we love this Polenta and Black Bean Casserole:


            1. Mine is sort of similar to happybelly's.
              Crush up some tortilla chips (they can be stale). I love the flaxseed high fiber/lowcarb ones from Trader joe's, they actually taste great. Anyways, I brown up a pound of ground turkey with some diced onions. Then dice up some red pepper, chop some cilantro & mix turkey, pepper, a can of salsa, maybe some extra diced tomatoes, a can of your favorite beans, some corn (frozen or from a can), olives all together with turkey. Season with a bit of cumin if you like. Layer half in the dish over the crushed chips, then sprinkle on some shredded cheese (low fat if you like), then the other half of the mix and some more cheese on top. I serve it with some reduced fat sour cream on the side.
              It's hearty but can really adjusted to your liking, and pretty healthy, with protein, veggies, and fiber.

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodandscience

                YUM yum yum. Can't wait to try it. I like how flexible this seems... olives, too yay!

              2. Does Jambalaya count as a casserole? If so, there's nothing heavy or sauce-laden about it. And if the door opens that far, there are plenty of baked rice dishes - pilafs, paellas, etc. - that follow in the same vein.

                1. Prepare 2 boxes of the Betty Crocker cheese potato kits in a 9x13 baking pan. Follow directions up until the baking stage. Prior to baking the potatoes, season about 7-8 boneless pork loin chops with salt & pepper and place them on top of the unbaked potatoes. Cover pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees. I know this isn't "homemade", but it is delicious and easy/quick to make. Oh and kids love it! I suppose if you wanted to go homemade all the way, you could use fresh potaoes in a cheese sauce, but it will take longer to cook. Good Luck!

                  1. I do the Rice con Queso from Diet for a Small Planet, using the ricotta it calls for, or substituting full fat yogurt, or even low fat yogurt.


                    1. Chicken Cacciatore is a wonderful meal in one pot. Just boil and crush (or roast) a few yukon golds or cook some rice and job's a good 'un! It's cheap too, cos you should use legs and thighs.

                      1. You could use low-fat condensed soups as binders for you casseroles. May not be super fancy but they work and you have a lot of different options when it comes to combinations and flavors.

                        1. Long time casserole fan here. The proportions of the high fat ingredients in most classic recipes can be tweaked without harm. Some favs that come to mind are:

                          New Joes Special - http://life-eos.blogspot.com/2007/10/...
                          Western Meal In One - http://life-eos.blogspot.com/2007/10/...
                          More - http://life-eos.blogspot.com/2007/10/...

                          I'd put tetrazzini on here but reducing the fat in that recipe is just CRIMINAL.

                          I'm also making Mexican style veggies dishes more these days to balance my carnivore side: http://www.chow.com/recipes/21453
                          Think ratatouille without the eggplant, sort of. Mild roasted poblano chile plus almost anything.

                          Bottom line - reduce the amount of melting cheese as desired and/or substitute a strong, dry grating cheese like romano or parmesan.

                          1. My favorite casserole of all time is Mixed Seafood Paella with Andouille and Artichoke Hearts.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: KiltedCook

                              okay now...can you share the recipe? Sounds unbelievably good! Thanks!

                              1. re: Val

                                The Kilted Cook's Seafood & Andouille Paella

                                1/4 cup Olive Oil
                                1 lb Frozen Mixed Seafood (not thawed)
                                1/2 lb Shrimp, peeled
                                1/2 lb Scallops
                                1/2 lb (or more) Andouille Sausage cut into 1/2” rings, then quartered
                                1 large Onion, chopped
                                1 can Whole Tomatoes, large, with liquid (or half a dozen fresh from the garden
                                1 can Artichoke Hearts, 14-ounce, with liquid
                                1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced
                                1 Red Bell Pepper
                                2 cloves garlic, minced
                                1-1/2 cups rice
                                1 can Chicken broth + 1/2 can water
                                1/4 teaspoon saffron
                                Salt and pepper to taste

                                Core and seed and then roast a red bell pepper over flames (BBQ grill, blow torch, gas range) until charred and getting soft. Do not remove the tasty blackened bits. Cut into strips.

                                Heat a splash of olive oil in a paella pan or wide deep skillet, to medium high. Add the andouille and sauté until lightly browned. Remove.

                                Add a bit more oil, if necessary,and cook the onion and garlic until transparent. Add the rice, toss with the onion, and cook for 5 minutes. Return the andouille, and add tomatoes, broth, saffron, salt, and peppers. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Cut up the tomatoes in the pan.

                                Add the artichoke hearts and seafood and cook 10-15 minutes, scraping the bottom to prevent sticking, until the liquids are mostly absorbed and the rice is tender.

                                1. re: KiltedCook

                                  wow, thanks, looks great...QUESTION: do you use just regular raw long-grain rice for this? (which is what I would do but just making sure)

                              2. I guess that the only casserole I make is tamale pie: I dump a can of Colombian "chile" (mostly beans), a can of corn, and a chopped onion and tomato into a caserole and top with a tamale pie mix using Maseca. Very quick and my daughter loves it!

                                  1. Ham, potatoes, peas, chicken broth, sherry wine for flavor, swiss, a little cream and spinach.

                                    A Mexican one with turkey, fresh tomatoes, chilies, onions, tomato sauce, it does have a little sour cream, black olives and tortillas

                                    A low fat turkey tettrazinni with whole wheat pasta, mushrooms, broth, sherry wine, a little cream but not much, asparagus and peas, a little onion and turkey. Parm is a must

                                    A favorite is zuchinni, ground turkey, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, ricotta and cheddar (there are few other items, no cream however and not tons of cheese.

                                    This is an amazing casserole. I changed a few things but amazing.

                                    This a casserole of sorts. I use some good sausage. Kielbasa or turkey sausage or beef sausage (use your favorite) I cut in bite sizes, add thick sliced potatoes, sauerkraut, onions and thin sliced carrots. Layer it and add beer and caraway. Add just a little flour to the liquid so it thickens slightly. I like to serve it over crunchy toasted thick bread.

                                    Egg plant casserole with olives, onions, fresh tomatoes and portabellos, all layered with spinach, ricotta and mozarella low fat. chicken broth and good flavor.

                                    Yellow rice, layers of sauteed peppers and onions , tomato sauce, cheese and chicken all topped with a great cheese topping

                                    Spinach casserole with ham or pancetta, swiss, broth, ricotta over croissants baked it makes a light rich thick almost custard. But it doesn't have hardly any cream and just a couple of eggs.

                                    turkey creamed in broth and a little butter over wild rice, with almonds, scallions, monterey jack, only 1/2 cup milk with fresh asparagus and red peppers.

                                    Artichoke casserole with red peppers, spinach, chicken and mushrooms.

                                    Chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, it does have mushroom soup, ramen noodles, not too healthy, but it still is good.

                                    I do make a sausage almost breakfast like casserole, but I usually use egg beaters, no cream, sausage (turkey is fine) hashbrowns, onion, red pepper, scallions and then bake. The last few minutes you top with simple pillsbury crescent rolls. It will feed 8 easily. It is like breakfast but much more. It is great with a nice salad. It is a great dish

                                    Someone mentioned chicken caccitore. I love it. I use leftover rotisserie chicken, lots of onion, peppers and mushrooms, cook with tomatoes and a little sauce, white wine for a kick and I layer it with a layer of rice, then the chicken mix, then just a little cheese, then rice and chicken and cheese. It is amazing and easy and you use very very little cheese

                                    Mushroom casserole with ham and fennel with spinach, a chicken broth base with white wine or sherry, fresh herbs layered with bread crumbs and fresh ricotta and topped with a layer of fresh bread crumbs.

                                    Remember, all these can be made with milk not cream. Low fat is ok not skim. Also low fat cheese is fine and most of these are somewhat low it fat. Yes there is some cream, however. A small amount is fine when divided among 8 or more servings. If you like any of them let me know, glad to send details.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      I would love the recipes for these

                                      Spinach casserole with ham or pancetta, swiss, broth, ricotta over croissants baked it makes a light rich thick almost custard. But it doesn't have hardly any cream and just a couple of eggs.

                                      turkey creamed in broth and a little butter over wild rice, with almonds, scallions, monterey jack, only 1/2 cup milk with fresh asparagus and red peppers.

                                      Artichoke casserole with red peppers, spinach, chicken and mushrooms.

                                    2. i love casseroles too. I used to have a low fat pastisio recipe that used yogurt for the sauce, if I can find it I wlll post it. It was lower in fat but it didn't skimp on flavor. I second the chicken cacciatore suggestion. I use skinless thighs when I make it. I got a good recipe for this in The Big Book of Casseroles by Maryana Vollstedt. The chicken is served over polenta and then the whole thing is baked. The cookbook has a lot of healthful recipes. I really recommend it if you like casseroles.


                                      1. My mom used to make something that was homey and delicious. It involved browning ground beef, adding a layer of green beans, adding a can of tomato sauce (I don't recall if it was sauce or paste), and then putting homemade mashed potatoes on top of that with a little butter on the top and sticking it in the oven.

                                        1. Cook and drain 1 pkg. (12 oz.) noodles)
                                          Brown 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef w/1 chopped onion. Drain.
                                          In casserole dish combine 1 can cream of mushroom soup w/ 1 can cream of chicken soup.
                                          Add 8 oz. sour cream and 1 can (15 oz) drained corn.
                                          Stir in onion meat mixture and then noodles.
                                          Top with buttered bread crumbs and heat in 350 about 30 minutes, until bubbling.

                                          I have made this without the noodles, believe it or not, and loved it, but it is something I would only eat alone.

                                          1. we do a lot of asian "casseroles". I don' know if that counts. Chix thighs or brisket in the dish, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, black vinegar, onions, carrots, cabbage, amy vegetables to hand. Bung it in the oven covered, serve with rice. Low calorie if you do mostly cabbage and daikon.

                                            1. This rice casserole is great for rounding out a meal (or can be made with a vegetable stock for vegetarians and stands alone-double the mushrooms). I get 4-6 portions from this one cup of rice, amazingly enough...I often double it for leftovers.Its official family name is 'Skinny Sherwood's Peppery Rice Dish': the recipe was given to my Mum by a colleague of my Dad's 50 years ago.

                                              1 cup dry white or brown rice
                                              2 tbsp. butter
                                              3 cups strong stock ( beef, chicken, I used turkey stock the other day and it was great)
                                              1 small tin mushrooms sliced or pieces, not whole
                                              1 tsp ground pepper

                                              Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees

                                              Brown rice in butter on stove top (ideally you are using a casserole dish that pemits stove-top cooking as well as oven).

                                              Add tin of (drained) mushrooms and let them get a little colour, too. If needed add a little more butter. Cook for 2 minutes.

                                              Add stock and ground pepper. Stir. If you are using canned or other commercial stock, do not add salt...but if this is homemade unsalted stock, add 1 tsp salt at this point, too.

                                              Cover casserole dish and bake very slowly (2 hours or more...this is a great dish to set in the oven to accompany braised lamb, or beef or pork)-add water if it seems to be getting dry. The rice will lose its shape but it is a terrific base to soak up sauce and it can stand alone.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: LJS

                                                I don't mean to be rude, but why on earth would you use tinned mushrooms? I can understand 50 years ago, as fresh mushrooms may have been hard to come by, but now, when they're cheap and plentiful...

                                                1. re: berbadeerface

                                                  Well, normally I would use fresh. But I always keep a tin. I got home at 12 the other night. No stores open. it was my almost breastfast lunch for me working odd hours so why not. I also keep a bag of frozen mushrooms, peppers, corn, peas and onions. Yes I always try to get fresh but at midnight trying to cook an omelette. a few frozen mushrooms or onions is just fine, canned too if that is all you have. It is better than take out or processed food. Yes fresh is better, but do the best you can.

                                                  1. re: berbadeerface

                                                    I don' t think you are being rude: it is a good question...I have gone to the trouble of making it with fresh mushrooms, slicing and sauteeing first (though that adds to the fat content, too, which OP was trying to avoid) and it really makes no difference after 2 hours in the oven.

                                                    Don't let the reference to canned mushrooms put you off this very useful recipe! it is infinitely variable...

                                                2. 31 days of casseroles was just featured on MSN Delish and thought I would share.