© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Resident Chef Kathy Gunst Rethinks The Casserole

When you think “casserole,” do you think noodles and canned soup?

Well, Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst says that there are so many more options. Kathy has been experimenting with a White Bean and Sausage Casserole, adding Swiss chard and sausage to Macaroni and Cheese, and turning Eggplant Parmesan into Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Casserole.

She brings in a couple of her dishes for Peter and Robin and taps some of their memories of their favorite casseroles.

See more cooking segments and recipes from Kathy Gunst here.

White Bean and Chorizo Casserole, with Panko Topping

Kathy’s Note: Canned white beans never tasted this good. You can use Spanish-style chorizo or an Italian spicy or sweet sausage in this recipe. The casserole can be made a day ahead of time and heated 30 minutes or so before serving. This casserole can be a main course or side dish.

Use an 8- to 10-inch long casserole or gratin dish for making this recipe.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

For the casserole:

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 scallions finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces chorizo, thinly sliced, or sweet or spicy Italian sausage, out of the casing and crumbled

One 19-ounce can white cannellini beans, drained, rinsed under cold water and drained again

1/2 cup white or red wine

For the topping:

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil mixed with 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

Instructions:

In a large skillet heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the scallions and the chorizo (or sausage) and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes. Add the beans and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Raise the heat to high and add the wine; let simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the mixture in the casserole.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, mix the panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and thyme. Spoon on top of the casserole, pressing down to create a crust. In a small bowl mix the oil, cayenne and paprika and spoon on top of the panko topping.

The casserole can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake on the middle shelf for about 15 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the casserole is hot and the juices bubbling. You can brown the topping under the broiler for 1-2 minutes if you like.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Casserole

This casserole offers a lightened version of Eggplant Parmesan. Instead of frying the eggplant in oil, it is roasted until soft and then sliced and interspersed with slices of ripe tomato, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil. The whole layered vegetables dish is baked on top of a bed of tomato sauce. It can be made a day ahead of time; cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Use a 10-inch long casserole, Pyrex or gratin dish for this recipe.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients:

1 pound eggplant, one large or two medium

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups tomato sauce

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons

1 pound mozzarella, cut into thin slices

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the eggplant in foil and bake on the middle shelf for around 30 minutes, or until soft but not collapsed. Let cool slightly in the foil. Remove, cut off the ends and cut into 1/2 inch slices.

Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on the bottom of a medium-sized casserole, about 10 inches. Add the tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Place a slice of eggplant at one end of the casserole. Place a slice of tomato next to the tomato, followed by a touch of basil and then a slice of mozzarella. Repeat, creating a second row if needed. Season with salt and pepper and any remaining basil.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle on the grated Parmesan cheese. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling, the eggplant is tender when tested with a knife, and the cheese is melted. If you want a crispy topping place under the broiler for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Macaroni and Cheese with Sausage and Swiss Chard

Kathy’s Note: Comfort food with a twist: Spicy Italian sausage and sautéed Swiss chard are folded into macaroni and topped with a cheese sauce. The dish can be made several hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Be sure not to add the topping until you’re ready to bake the casserole.

Use a large gratin dish or casserole about 14” x 9 1/2” dish.

Serves 6.

Ingredients: 

For the sausage and Swiss chard:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage, taken out of the casing and crumbled

5 ounces Swiss chard or kale, rib removed and chopped

For the pasta and cheese sauce:

1 tablespoon butter

2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons flour

4 cups milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 pound macaroni or Gemelli (small twisted pasta)

For the topping:

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Make the sausage and Swiss chard: In a medium skillet heat the oil over moderate heat and add the sausage; cook, stirring, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet you cooked the sausage in and heat over moderately high heat. Add the Swiss chard and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until soft and just wilted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cooked drained sausage.

Make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over moderate heat until just sizzling. Stir in the flour and stir together to create a paste. Cook about 2 minutes or until the paste (called a roux) is just beginning to turn a pale golden color. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook over low heat until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and parsley to taste. Off the heat, whisk in the two cheeses and whisk until smooth.

Make the pasta: Boil a large pot of salted water over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, or almost cooked through. Macaroni will take about 8 minutes and Gemelli takes about 12 minutes. Drain.

Grease the casserole with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil. Add the drained pasta to the casserole. Stir in the sausage and Swiss chard mixture. Add the cheese sauce, stirring well to make sure everything is well coated. The dish can be made several hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate.

Meanwhile in a small bowl mix the cheeses, panko bread crumbs, and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375. If you made the casserole ahead of time bring to room temperature. Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumb topping on top and bake on the middle shelf for around 45 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbling. Place under broiler for 5 minutes.

Guest

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kathy Gunst's Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Casserole. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
/
/
Kathy Gunst's Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Casserole. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Kathy Gunst's White Bean and Chorizo Casserole, with Panko Topping. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
/
/
Kathy Gunst's White Bean and Chorizo Casserole, with Panko Topping. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)