What do you think of when you think of casseroles? While many of us may flash back to a 1950s housewife pulling a steaming dish out of the oven, the history of the casserole dates back to earlier times.
Casseroles, from the French for "saucepan," as we know them today originated sometime in the late 19th century and are characterized as dishes that include meat, vegetables, and a liquid with a starchy component that binds it all together, such as a roux. Depending on where you are in the world, you may also hear the terms cassoulet, ragout, lasagna, gratin, or bake to describe one-pot wonders that fall under the category of a casserole.
Casseroles have proven to be popular dishes when time and money are of the essence — they're cost-effective and time-efficient meals that were extremely popular in the 1950s, for example, when the availability of lightweight ovenproof cookware, canned goods, and the introduction of smaller kitchens made them attractive options.
Things are a little different these days, though. More and more modern and creative interpretations of casseroles are popping up, making them not only a resourceful way to serve up a meal, but a delicious one, too. Texas-natives Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook are leading the charge of reinventing the casserole with their own show, The Casserole Queens on HUNGRY, the food-centric YouTube channel from Electus, and their New York Times best-selling book The Casserole Queens Cookbook. Pollock and Cook’s mission is simple: taking the kitsch out of casserole and "resurrecting the classic American classic," to quote their mission statement.
To take their casserole mission just one step further, they’ve shared five of their favorite casserole recipes with The Daily Meal, along with five crucial tips that perfect the art of casserole-making. From reinventing vegetables to satiating the pizza lover’s needs, these recipes run the gamut when it comes to casseroles, proving that casseroles are no longer just a way to use up leftovers, but are a culinary expression as well.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce