Casseroles are an American classic.

In the 1950s the American homemaker designed casseroles to be easy, budget-friendly, and nutritious and often used leftovers.

Food shortages existed during World War l and ll. These shortages taught homemakers to be thrifty and the importance of not wasting food. Casseroles were a great way to turn leftovers and odds and ends in the refrigerator into something nutritious and delicious. Today, we have a renewed interest in the importance of not wasting food and using our resources wisely, not only to help a home budget but in the best interest of the planet, as well.

Several years ago, my son bought me a cookbook called 101 Things to Do with a Casserole (Ashcraft). Being compelled to buy me such a cookbook tells you how not great I was at making casseroles. Making a pleasantly memorable casserole is not just a matter of throwing ingredients together. They don’t have to be complicated, but it helps to understand what the ingredients do for each other; which are essential and which are not; and which do NOT go together. All of these questions can be answered with basic recipes and then by trial and error.

Three things I’ve come to understand about casseroles is that despite what Campbell says, canned soups are not essential.

Second, casseroles are magical.

Third, casseroles fit any dietary or cultural concern by adding and subtracting ingredients.

Any casserole I have eaten has felt like comfort food. My mother, known to be the first to bring a casserole to a family in times of trauma, understood the role casseroles play in bringing comfort to those in need. Casseroles easily convert o individual meals that can be frozen and used at a later time. I’ve had people tell me that knowing the meals were in the freezer brought them a sense of security in knowing someone cared.

While casseroles are generally not complicated, their complexity is up to the chef. A cream-of-something soup (yes! you can make your own!), a vegetable, and meat or fish can come together as an uncomplicated casserole. Substitute the soup for spaghetti sauce or eggs and add spices and herbs, and we have complexity, but still not complicated. No special tools are needed or order of ingredients, but the result is a flavorful, fill-you-up meal that’s likely to please most everyone.

A breakfast or anytime casserole is one of the best ways to use up stale bread. I make the following recipe the day before, then serve it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If baked ahead, it can be refrigerated, then covered and reheated.

Red Pepper and Ground Sausage Anytime Casserole
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Red Pepper and Ground Sausage Anytime Casserole

I originally made this casseroles for a Christmas morning as it can be made the night before and either baked in the morning, or bake it ahead and refrigerate it until morning. Then reheat. However, this casserole is a great lunch or dinner option. It serves 6 -8. Add a side salad, and/or bread and it will easily fill 10 hungry folks!
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Optional: Cover and chill 8 hrs or overnight 40 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 40 minutes
Servings 8 People
Calories 212kcal
Cost $10

Equipment

  • Paring knife
  • 9 X 13" baking dish or deep-dish pie plate
  • Medium sized fry pan
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cup

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground sausage
  • 6 lrg Eggs
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 small Red onion, diced
  • 2 med Red peppers, diced or cubed
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Ground mustard
  • 3 tsp Dried Italian Herbs
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 slices Bread, dried, 1" cubes
  • 1 cup Shredded Mexican cheese mix or cheddar

Instructions

  • In a frying pan, brown the sausage over medium heat. Using a fork, break apart the sausage as it cooks and crumbles into small pieces. Set aside.
  • Before adding to a large bowl, crack open each egg in a separate dish. One rotten egg will ruin the whole bowl of eggs! Beat the eggs; add salt, ground pepper, ground mustard, herbs, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Mix ingredients together well.
  • Stir in bread cubes, cheese, onions, red pepper,s, sausage.
  • Pour into the baking dish or deep-dish pie plate. Refrigerate overnight or bake uncovered at 350°F for 35 mins. or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Options

  • Experiment with adding leftover vegetables, substitute cubed ham, bacon, or a combination of meats. Leave out the meat. Varying herbs and spices add complexity to the casserole's flavor.
  • Tightly wrap the unbaked casserole and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 679mg | Potassium: 224mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 145IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 1mg

 

Optional: Tightly wrap unbaked casserole and freeze for up to three months. Thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking.

Scrumptiously delicious!