When I first got married, I was all about cooking really great, really original food every single night. The very mention of casserole had me turning my nose up. I thought I was too good for casseroles I guess. Well, five years and two kids later, I LOVE casseroles. Not only are casseroles superb at cleaning out everything that is about to go bad in your fridge, but they are the perfect place for experimenting. I have learned more about mixing flavors and ingredients from casseroles than I ever did cooking fancy meals from a cookbook. The basic mix of a casserole is really easy. You need a sauce maker ( such as a “cream of” soup), you need liquid of some kind to cook your ingredients ( i.e. broth, milk), pasta/rice, meat, veggies, and a topping. From there you can add anything else you want. Below is my recent favorite, inspired by my favorite BBQ joint in Memphis, Neely’s.
Bar-B-Q Pasta Bake
1 c. chicken broth
2 cans diced tomatoes
BBQ seasoning ( I used BBQ 3000 from Penzeys Spices)
1/2 c. BBQ sauce ( Corky’s used here)
2 cups leftover cooked pork or chicken
3 cups uncooked medium shells
1 can rinsed and drained white beans
1 can drained kernel corn
1/2 cup cheddar
Mix everything except cheddar in a big bowl. Season to taste. Pour into 13×9 pan. Top with cheddar. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes to brown topping. If you can wait, let stand for a few minutes, if you can’t, I understand. Serve with cornbread.
You can even make this ahead and stash it in the fridge so you can throw it in the oven when you get home.