Monday, November 29, 2010

Post-Kid Kitchen: That's How I Casserole


Somehow, miraculously, the Thanksgiving leftovers were basically gone by Sunday afternoon. I had a fridge full of odds and ends - leftovers from dinners throughout the week - and no idea what to make. And when I have no idea what to make, I make a casserole.

I don't think I ever made a casserole before going vegan. My only explanation is that I was a strict recipe-follower back then. As I move more and more in the direction of forming my own one-woman kitchen-improv troupe, I make more spur-of-the-moment dishes. And casseroles are great spur-of-the-moment food.

I have a casserole "formula" that I follow, and it goes like this:

Start with a cooked carbohydrate (rice, pasta, potatoes...). Add cooked beans (white, black, garbanzo...) and cooked vegetables (carrot, celery, peas, green beans...). Choose something to give it some flavor (onion, garlic, nuts, seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, olives...), especially if your starting ingredients were pretty plain, and moisten (with vegetable broth, tomato sauce, gravy, cheezy sauce...) as needed. This is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover soup! Season with dried herbs and spices (my general rule is that if they smell good together, they'll probably taste good together).

Preheat your oven to 350 F to 400 F. Cover and bake for 30 minutes if the ingredients were room temperature or warmer, or 1 hour if the ingredients were cold.

Here's what I had:
3 1/2 large baked potatoes
1 1/2 cups plain black beans
2/3 large white onion
about 1 cup samosa-filling-inspired seasoned veggies (inspired by Veganomicon's Samosa-Stuffed Baked Potatoes)

Here's what I did:
Sliced the potatoes into, well, slices. Diced onion. Layered potatoes in an oiled casserole dish. Sprinkled beans and vegetables over the top. Whipped up a batch of the sauce for Susan's Creamy Scalloped Potatoes (using unsweetened almond milk and omitting the miso), and poured that over the whole shebang. Sprinkled with seasoned salt. Wrote a note for Rob, and left to spend the afternoon with my mom.


I don't know what possessed me to top curry-flavored vegetables with cheeze-flavored sauce, but it worked out pretty well. Even if it wasn't pretty.


I'm blaming some of the unappetizing hue on the lighting in my kitchen, but with casserole, beauty really is in the eye (er, mouth?) of the beholder.