Holiday Recipes (6): Eight Layer Casserole and Greek Noodle Casserole @foodinjars

December 3, 2012

The rainy weather in Los Angeles this weekend prompted me to drive more cautiously and to think about casseroles – well, not in that order, but you understand. Truly, there is nothing more comforting after a long day of trying to create holiday cheer in the office (event planning and gift wrapping) than to arrive home and find a hot soothing casserole and a glass of wine waiting for you. Here are two recipes to boost the comfort in your comfort food this December. I am reminded of my childhood favorite we called “Ussi Souffle” – a cheese and egg casserole inspired by a Danish neighbor. I might post that recipe at a later time.

 

Eight Layer Casserole

eightlayer casserole

Makes 8 servings in 2-quart square baking dish

30 minutes prep, bake 55 minutes, 10 minutes to stand before serving

 

Ingredients:

3 cups dried medium noodles (6 oz)

1 pound ground beef

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce

1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 8 oz sour cream

1 8 oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup milk

1/3 cup chopped onion (1 small)

1 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz)

 

Directions:

Grease a 2-quart casserole or a 2-quart square baking dish; set aside. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook beef until brown. Drain off fat. Stir tomato sauce, basil, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper into skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl beat together the sour cream and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in milk and onion. In prepared casserole or baking dish, layer half of the noodles (about 2 cups), half of the meat mixture (about 1 1/2 cups), half of the cream cheese mixture (about 1 cup), and all of the spinach. Top with the remaining meat mixture and noodles. Cover and chill remaining cream cheese mixture until needed.

Cover casserole or baking dish with lightly greased foil. Bake in 350 degree F oven about 45 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; spread with remaining cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings

 

Alternate: Prepare as directed through Step 3. Cover with lightly greased foil and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; spread with remaining cream-cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before baking.

 

http://www.bhg.com/recipe/beef/eight-layer-casserole/

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Greek Noodle Casserole (Pastitsio)

GreekCasserole

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis (tips from Marisa McClellan @foodinjars)

Prep Time: 20 min

Inactive Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 1 hr

6 to 8 servings in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish

 

Ingredients:

Butter, for greasing the baking dish

Kosher salt

12 oz egg noodles

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, chopped or smashed

1 pound ground lamb

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

One 26-oz jar tomato-basil sauce (3 1/4 cups)

1 1/2 packed cups fresh mint leaves, chopped

 

Sauce:

1 cup milk, at room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

3 cups grated Parmesan (about 6 oz)

1 cup plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, optional

 

Directions:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the noodles until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the lamb, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and mint. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

For the sauce: Simmer the milk and cream over medium heat in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cheese and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yogurt.

Add the meat sauce to the pasta and toss well until the noodles are coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Spoon the cheese sauce evenly on top and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped mint if using, and serve.

 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/greek-noodle-casserole-pastitsio-recipe/index.html

 

Before you get cooking, here are a few things you should know:

— Ground lamb can often be quite greasy. If your meat seems to be swimming in oil after you’ve browned it, pour the fat off into a small dish before proceeding to the next step in the recipe.

— When you cook the pasta, make sure to stop just shy of al dente. Because this dish gets baked, this prevents the noodles from dissolving into mush during their time in the oven.

— This dish calls for a ton of mint. If your mint plants have died back for the season or you can’t afford the grocery store prices, use baby spinach instead. Simply chop it fine and stir it in. It won’t be quite as authentic, but you’ll still get your greens.

— I like to serve this casserole with a giant green salad to balance out its richness. Should you want to keep all the components of the meal warm, however, a pan of softened kale with garlic is also nice.

 

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