Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter Warmer Casserole

Delhi's winter is really kicking in and I can't get over how cold it is! It makes me crave for hot soups and hot meals. Don't fancy spending too long in the kitchen either and too many dishes mean that one cools before the other comes to the table. Solution - a one pot meal - steaming hot straight from the stove/oven to the table!

So I set about looking for a one pot recipe and came across casseroles - something which I wanted to make for a long time but didn't seem to find a suitable recipe.I would read recipes for "Green Bean Casserole" and realize that there was actually just green beans in it with some milk and butter and some soup straight out of a soup can all baked together....we are so used to having vegetables cooked in a variety of ways with spices and tempering that this concept was a bit difficult to understand. But this time I was determined to make this dish my own.

I have a cookbook called "50 and Holding Ozark Cookbook " - sent by a dear friend in the US. It has all sorts of recipes in it, all contributed by the members of the 50 and Holding Club and the community of Climax Springs, Missouri. It is divided into different sections, with blank pages at the end of each section for you to make notes on; at the back of the book in addition to the glossary of cooking terms, there are nutrition and calorie tables, a table for cooking vegetables showing the way to prepare each vegetable(wash,cut,peel etc),cooking time; cuts of meat and serving portions according to weight and a very interesting table on what herbs and spices to use for cooking various vegetables and meats in different ways.

While most of the recipes are traditional American dishes and local homestyle cooking and include such doozies as "how to cook 'coon", I really enjoyed reading this book and all its tips and notes! None of the recipes had more then 10 ingredients and most recipes were about 10-15 lines long

Well, anyway,all of the vegetarian casseroles in it were accompaniments and not one pot meals. So I read through the cabbage casserole, the corn casserole and the winter vegetables casserole....and then I improvised.....

......and this is what I came up with - a hearty one dish meal which incorporated some cooked rice, pasta sauce out of a jar (which I needed to finish because I didn't like it enough to use in pasta), potatoes, cabbage,cauliflower,green garbanzo beans,sweet corn soup from a can (which I got free with something and will never use otherwise), cream cheese, milk and lots of crushed black peppercorns. Come to think of it, maybe it would be better to call this dish "Pantry Clean up"!

The rice really made this substantial without the heaviness of the usual baked pasta dishes.

Cream cheese can be substituted with sour cream or even cheese spread.

Pasta sauce can be replaced with tomato puree (about 4 tbsp should do).

Milk is optional and I added it to make sure the whole dish remained moist and did not dry out.

Try other vegetables like mushroom,spinach, peas,peppers and even fresh sweetcorn - they should do well in this dish.

If you don't fancy whole cabbage leaves in the dish, shred the leaves after cooking.

Winter Warmer Casserole


Potatoes - 4 medium peeled and sliced thinly

Onion - 1 big sliced

Cabbage - 4 whole big leaves washed well
Hara Chollia (Green garbanzo beans) - 1/2 cup parboiled

Sweet corn soup (tinned) - 1 cup

Cauliflower - 1 cup florets

Cooked rice - 1 cup (preferably a day old)

Pasta Sauce - 6 tablespoons (Or use tomato puree 4 tbsp)

Chilli powder - 1 tsp

Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp

Mixed dried herbs - 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Olive oil - 1 tbsp

Cream cheese - 5 tbsp

Milk - 1/4 cup (optional)

Freshly crushed black peppercorns - 2-3 tbsp


1. Take the sliced potatoes and put them into boiling water in a large vessel with a tsp of salt in it. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the whole cabbage leaves and press till they are immersed in the water and cook another 5 minutes. Check whether the potatoes and cabbage are just cooked. Drain the water and keep aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add the garlic and then the onions, saute for 5 minutes till the onions are transluscent.

3. Add the chilli powder and cumin powder, then the capsicum,cauliflowers and parboiled chollia and stir fry on high for 3-4 minutes till they are just cooked. Add the pasta sauce/tomato puree at this stage and cook for a couple of minutes more.

4. Add the cooked rice and sweet corn soup,mix well and cook further for 3-4 minutes, then add the dried herbs, salt and 1 tbsp of crushed peppercorns. Turn off the flame and keep warm.

5. Take a casserole or an oven proof dish and lightly grease the insides. Take two of the cabbage leaves and place it at the bottom side by side covering as much of the dish as possible.

6. Place half the potato slices over the cabbage leaves in a single layer. Roughly spread about 2.5 tbsp of cream cheese over the potato slices.

7. Spoon the entire cooked rice and sweet corn mixture over the potato slices.

8. Place remaining potato slices in a single layer over the rice mixture.

9. Spread the remaining cream cheese over the potato slices and cover with the other 2 cabbage leaves

10. Pour milk over the whole mixture and sprinkle 1 tbsp of the crushed pepper all over.

11. Bake in a pre heated oven for about 30 minutes at 180C / 350 F.

12. Serve hot with bread or on its own.

1 comment:

Laavanya said...

That is a pantry cleaner for sure.. but looks heartwarming indeed.