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Oct 24, 2006 07:12 PM

Gourmet Casserole/Make Ahead Dish for Friend with New Baby (recipe request)

I like to make lasagne for friends with new babies but now my most gourmet, epicurian friend just had a baby and I don't think lasagne is going to cut it. I have one casserole recipe that is wonderful (involving proscuitto, gorgonzola) but I have already made it for this friend and she has added it to her repertoire so I wouldn't be surprised if she made some and froze it already! I use regularly so if you know of a recipe just send key words my way to keep it simple and I will track it down. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I use the SF Junior League recipe for moussaka and even people who hate eggplant like it. It is time consuming and probably not authentic but it tastes great. If you'd like, I can post it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Sure, chowser, I would like to try making moussaka, 'specially if it's a sure thing. Please post.

      1. re: blue room

        It doesn't look like it would take as long but making the eggplant part is time consuming. I always get great feedback with it. I also will make a seasoned shepard's pie, using the meat mixture only, layering w/ corn and mashed potatoes. Again, not authentic, but good.

        2 large eggplants
        1 c. flour
        1 c. olive oil
        1 lb. bulk sausage meat
        2 c. chopped onions
        2 lbs. ground lamb
        1 tsp. salt
        1 tsp. crumbled dried oregano
        2 cloves garlic
        1 c. tomato puree
        3/4 c. minced fresh parsley
        Salt and pepper to taste
        1 c. red wine
        12-14 spinach leaves
        1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
        4 Tbsp. butter
        1/2 c. light cream
        1/2 tsp. salt
        Nutmeg to taste
        1/2 c. ricotta cheese

        Peel and slice eggplants crosswise. Salt well and set in single layer of paper towels. Set aside to bleed for 30 minutes. Pat dry. Place flour in paper bag and shake a few slices of eggplant at a time to coat. Heat oil and large skillet and lightly saute eggplant slices. Set aside. Brown sausage meat in skillet, drain off fat, reserving 2 tbsp and set aside. Saute onions in 1 Tpsb of reserved fat, add to reserved sausage meat. Brown lamb in skillet, seasoning w/ oregano and salt. Add to reserved sausage mixture. In 1 tbsp fat, saute garlic until just starting to turn golden. Add tomato puree, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well, then add wine and reserved meat mixture. Simmer, uncovered until all liquid is absorbed. Butter 5 qt casserole. Layer eggplant on bottom. Cover w/ meat mixture. Add spinach leaves and top w/ mushrooms. Melt butter in saucepan until foamy, sprinkle w/ flour, stir until smooth and thickened. Season w/ salt and nutmeg and pour over casserole. Top w/ ricotta cheese. Bake an hour at 400 degrees.

        1. re: chowser

          Thank you so much! Please tell me though, what sort of sausage do you use? With sage, or garlic, or sweet? I can't figure which flavor would be right. Thanks!

          1. re: blue room

            I wouldn't do sweet but anything savory would probably work. Spicy would be good. It's pretty flavorful on its own w/ plain sausage but I buy whatever catches my eye.

            1. re: blue room

              If she is nursing - you will want to stay away from the spicy sausage. I learned the hard way that while Mom may love it while she is eating, she will not appreciate what it does to baby.

              1. re: blue room

                I never fry/saute eggplant anymore because of the gigantic thirst it has for oil. I use the brush it with oil and brown in a hot oven til wilted method.

                Also, Chowser's recipe says to add oil to pan and that's ONE CUP. After browning the eggplant we're asked to add the lamb to the skillet. Well, either the eggplant has absorbed most of the cup of oil or there's a lot left in the skillet when the lamb goes in.

                This doesn't seem right. Am I misreading something?

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Yeah, the first time I made it, it was scary how much oil the eggplant absorbed. I didn't measure when I cooked it, either, but it seemed like I just kept adding oil. Since then, I've brushed it with oil and baked it,as you've said. I thought I'd post the recipe as it is but I probably should have said how I've revamped the recipe. I also use ground beef and not lamb. BTW, the first time I made it, it didn't taste oily at all surprisingly. Honestly, I think it tasted better which is why I left it as is.

              2. re: chowser

                Thanks a million for this. I think I may use for a different purpose: to convince my husband that eggplant is worth eating. How can he resist?

          2. Not sure if this fits the "gourmet" requirement or is she nursing? If she is, this may not qualify but Epi has a lovely Polenta and Black Bean casserole that we devour; sometimes I'll sub regular salsa for the salsa verde and I always make my own polenta for it. You might also check out their other baked polenta recipes which sound quite elegant! Oops, another good casserole at Epi is Baked Rigatoni with Ham and Tomatoes, very rich!

            1. I LOVE this dish. Not exactly a casserole, but it is sooo yummy. I've modified it from a Nigella recipe:

              Halumi Bake
              one package Halumi (Greek cheese that doesn't melt like other cheeses-- you can find it at Whole Foods) cut into 3/4" chunks

              veggies of your choice-- I usually do zuchinni, sweet potato, yellow squash, tomato, some shallots

              fresh herbs of your choice-- maybe some thyme, some parsley, marjoram, whatever you like

              fresh ground black pepper

              toss it all in a baking dish and bake until veggies are done and the cheese chunks are brown

              The cheese is salty and seasons the veggies. Serve with a big salad and some nice crusty bread with butter. Mmmm.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Procrastibaker

                Wow this is so simple. No olive oil or anything? Just the cheese and veggies with herbs? I think this might be a good thing for me to make for my son to get him to eat vegetables. We have to resort to trickery in my house.

                1. re: rockridgechow

                  Yeah, it's so easy. I may have drizzled on a little olive oil just to keep things from sticking, but you don't need much since the cheese is so rich. Let me know if you try it out!

              2. BAKED SHRIMP W/TOMATOES
                & FETA

                1⁄4 cup olive oil, plus 2T
                1 large onion, chopped
                1 14-1/2 can diced tomatoes
                2 T chopped parsley
                1 T oregano
                1 4 oz. Can diced green chilis
                4 cloves garlic, miced
                1 lb. Uncooked shrimp, peeled
                1 large fennel bulb, diced
                1⁄4 ouzo or sambucca (optional)
                4 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled

                Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions & fennel. Saute until golden, about 12 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, parsley, oregano & garlic. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Season w/salt & pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead) Cover, chil, reheat before continuing.

                Preheat oven to 400 deg. Heat 2 T olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp & sauté until almost opaque (about 2 minutes). Remove skillet from heat & add ouzo. Add tomatoe sauce, stir. Sprinkle cheese over & bake 10 minutes

                1. I made the Whole Foods recipe for Southwestern King Ranch casserole (as found in the Best American Recipes book) for my friends with a new baby a few weeks ago. It's very good, and can be eaten for a few meals.

                  Here's a version of it I found on the web:

                  Southwest King Ranch Casserole

                  Recipe By :
                  Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
                  Categories : Poultry

                  Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
                  -------- ------------ --------------------------------
                  3 tablespoons canola oil
                  1 1/2 cups diced yellow onions
                  2 cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
                  2 teaspoons paprika
                  1 teaspoon cumin
                  1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
                  1 teaspoon salt
                  3 cups shredded cooked boneless chicken
                  1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
                  2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
                  1 cup grated cheddar cheese
                  2 cups bottled tomatillo sauce
                  8 corn tortillas
                  1 1/2 cups sour cream
                  1/2 cup chopped green chilies, drained

                  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

                  Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add
                  onions, and cook them until they are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Blend
                  in garlic, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Add chicken, and heat
                  through. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in cilantro.

                  In a small bowl, combine the cheeses.

                  On the bottom of an 8 x 8 1/2-inch pan at least 2 inches deep, spread 1
                  cup of the tomatillo sauce. Top with 4 tortillas, overlapping as
                  necessary. Spread half the sour cream evenly over the tortillas. Add 1/2
                  cup of the remaining tomatillo sauce, 1 1/2 cups of the chicken filling, 1
                  cup cheese mixture, and one half of the green chilies.

                  Top with 4 more tortillas, the remainder of the sour cream, tomatillo
                  sauce, and chicken filling, 1 cup of the cheese mixture, and the remaining
                  green chilies. End with 1 cup cheese mixture sprinkled on top. Bake for
                  about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly on the surface.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: celeste

                    I made this on saturday and it was DELICIOUS! I can't thank you enough. One question: Where do you find your tomatillo sauce? I made this using tomatillo salsa (whole Foods) and it was just a little bit too spicy. I took the cumin down a hair anticipating that but it wasn't enough. For nursing moms I figure I have to avoid the spice plus less spicy means my son will eat so it's a worthwhile compromise. Thanks in advance . . .

                    1. re: rockridgechow

                      Trader Joe's has a very mild tomatillo salsa that is delicious - comes in a 32 oz. jar.

                      1. re: niki rothman

                        Wow, I checked Trader Joes but obviously I didn't look carefully. I will definitely pick some of this up -- enough for two casseroles worth!

                      2. re: rockridgechow

                        I'm so glad you tried it and liked it. I got a great homemade-style jarred tomatillo sauce from Andronico's when I made it, but I got the last jars on the shelf as they were discontinuing carrying the sauce! I'm glad to know that Trader Joe's has a tomatillo sauce too.