Comforting Casseroles That Won't Weigh You Down

October 31, 2014 Classic Cooking

I love casseroles — I grew up on them. My grandmother made tuna casserole, chicken casserole and green bean casserole. They were delicious, easy to prepare, stored well in the refrigerator and made convenient leftovers. There was just one problem: They were so heavy that everyone needed a nap after dinner! This article explores ways to make lighter casseroles that are still easy, convenient and delectable.

With a few clever ingredient additions, casseroles can be lighter and just as delicious.

Make Smart Substitutions Cream-based soup is a common ingredient in casseroles, but it contributes to that overly full feeling. Try a chicken, beef or vegetable broth as a lighter alternative. I love this French-inspired dish with chicken broth, great northern beans and other savory ingredients. It warms you right up, and it's not so filling that your day ends after dinner. Plus, you make it in your slow cooker, so it's ready shortly after you get home in the evening.

Aim for Balance Turn up the spice with this baked bean casserole, which balances the rich flavor of the beans with the crispness of corn, red onion and green pepper. Consider using red peppers in place of the green, and try fresh, sweet corn if it's in season.

Use Your Slow Cooker We used the slow cooker growing up, too, which produced convenient casseroles that were also a little on the heavy side. They don't have to be! This chicken casserole is flavorful without being too dense; great northern beans add just enough texture and body to the sauce. I love the herb combination as well. Rosemary and thyme are such comforting flavors. Although dried spices work fine, I definitely suggest using fresh for the most flavor.

Reheat the Right Way The best way to reheat a casserole is on the stove. It keeps any crunchy toppings from getting mushy. Just put what you'd like to reheat into a pan, and it'll be even more delicious than it was the night before.

Casseroles don't have to be overly indulgent dishes that leave everyone in a food coma. With a few clever ingredient additions, they can be lighter and just as delicious.

Meet Julie Niesen

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