Bring on the casserole
Turkey bolognese casserole

Comfort food
for fall

Autumn is the season of falling leaves, blustery winds and comfort food casseroles. Hearty pasta, spicy enchiladas and cheesy veggie bakes are at the top of our fall family dinner menus. Here are three of our favorite comfort food casseroles that can be made on the spot or made ahead to save you time in the kitchen.

Turkey Bolognese bake

Ground turkey lowers the fat and calories of this Italian-inspired comfort food casserole, but it doesn't make it any less tasty. Partner your baked pasta with a green salad and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1-1/4 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) whole tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, for four minutes.
  2. Add turkey, breaking it up with a spatula, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring often, until turkey is browned.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Stir in red wine and cook for one minute. Add tomatoes and use the spatula to break up the tomatoes.
  4. Bring to a simmer and stir in milk. Do not let sauce boil. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  6. While sauce is simmering, cook rigatoni in a large pot of salted boiling water just until al dente.
  7. Drain pasta well and pour into sauce, stirring to combine.
  8. Transfer pasta mixture to prepared baking dish and evenly top with cheeses.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Make ahead tip

After you transfer pasta to the baking dish and sprinkle it with cheese, allow it to cool completely. Spray one side of a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil with cooking spray and tightly cover baking dish with foil, sprayed side down. Refrigerate up to two days or freeze for up to two months (let casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking). Bake casserole for 20 minutes covered then remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Chipotle beef and black bean enchiladas

Chipotle lends a smoky heat to these hearty and healthy enchiladas. Adding refried black beans, spinach and raisins to the filling gives this Mexican dish a boost of tasty nutrition. Serve enchiladas with Spanish rice and jicama sticks sprinkled with lime juice and a little chili powder.

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large chipotle pepper in adodo sauce, minced
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 5 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh minced cilantro
  • 1 (15 ounce) can refried black beans
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 (28 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
  • 10 large whole wheat tortillas
  • 8 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for four minutes or until onion is softened and translucent.
  3. Add beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, to brown the beef.
  4. Add garlic, chipotle, diced chilies, lime zest and lime juice. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
  5. Add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted.
  6. Add cilantro, refried black beans and raisins, stirring until refried beans are fully incorporated.
  7. Reduce heat to low and keep mixture warm as you fill tortillas.
  8. Pour just enough enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish to cover.
  9. Place a tortilla in the dish and fill with beef mixture. Roll tortilla around filling, burrito-style. Place against the short side of the dish.
  10. Repeat with remaining tortillas and beef mixture, arranging burritos snugly side-by-side in the dish.
  11. Evenly pour remaining enchilada sauce over the burritos. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
  13. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Make ahead tip

Assemble enchiladas in the dish and sprinkle with cheese. Allow them to cool completely. Spray one side of a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil with cooking spray and tightly cover baking dish with foil, sprayed side down. Refrigerate up to two days or freeze for up to two months (let casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking). Bake casserole for 20 minutes covered then remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Cheesy artichoke and sun-dried tomato strata

If you're looking to add more meat-free meals to your family's weekly meal plan, this cheesy vegetable bake can be served for brunch or dinner.

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 cups cubed sourdough bread
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together two cups milk and oil. Add bread and soak for 10 minutes.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk remaining milk and the half-and-half together. Whisk in eggs, salt and pepper. Stir in feta, sage and thyme.
  4. Place half of the bread mixture in the prepared baking dish. Layer with half of the artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, fontina and Parmesan.
  5. Pour half of the egg mixture over ingredients, shaking the baking dish to distribute liquid.
  6. Repeat layering with remaining bread, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and cheeses.
  7. Cover with remaining egg mixture and shake dish to evenly distribute liquid.
  8. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  9. Bake for one hour or until set. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Make ahead tip

Once you assemble casserole, cover the baking dish with a sheet of aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray and allow it to soak overnight. When ready to bake, set dish out on the counter for 15 minutes while the oven preheats. Bake covered for 30 minutes then remove foil and bake until set, 30 to 40 minutes.

More comfort food recipes

Comfort food makeovers
Healthy, warm, spicy curry recipes
Comfort food vegan-style

Tags: make ahead meals

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Comments

Comments on "The ultimate comfort food casseroles"

Katie October 21, 2012 | 12:31 PM

The chipotle beef and black bean enchiladas sound amazing! I would love to try this.

Tina October 18, 2012 | 8:13 PM

These recipes definitely seem like the best comfort foods out there! Just be warned, they are probably full of calories (hence the name comfort food!), so I always try and eat really heathy the rest of the day and indulge for dinner!

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