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In the Kitchen: Creative casserole ideas
Cheesy squash zucchini casserole

When you hear the word “casserole,” you often conjure up memories of canned condensed soup, lots of butter, frozen vegetables and leftover cooked meat. Translation? Boring. 

But wait! Casseroles don’t have to be made up of leftovers and frozen veggies. You can actually make casseroles, a.k.a. one-pot-meals that will wow your family and even guests. 

Here are some of my favorites.

Yay for summer produce! If you don’t grow your own, seek out farmers markets for the freshest produce possible. It’s worth it.


Summer vegetable gratin

2 small yellow summer squash, chopped

2 small zucchini, chopped

3 small tomatoes, chopped

1 red bell pepper, cored, and seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

6 ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese, chopped

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss together squash, zucchini, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Roast for 30 minutes. Add in mozzarella, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. 

Roast another 20 minutes.

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Mixed greens pasta casserole

 1 pound rotini pasta

1 pound kale

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, chopped

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until just al dente. Drain pasta and then return to pot and set aside. 

Wash and dry the kale, cutting out the ribs. Cut the kale into ribbons. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add kale, lemon juice and zest, chicken broth, salt and pepper and cook until greens have wilted. Pour cooked greens and liquid into pot with cooked and drained pasta. Pour into baking dish. Add mozzarella cheese and parmesan. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.

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I love enchiladas — whether they are beef, chicken, or just beans and cheese. But making the sauce and filling and then rolling the enchiladas can be tedious. Especially on a busy weeknight. This easy casserole uses store-bought sauce and layers the ingredients instead of rolling individual enchiladas. It might not be as pretty, but I promise all of the same flavors are there and you can assemble it in minutes. You can use ground beef, chicken or turkey — or just use extra beans and make a vegetarian version. Garnish with sliced avocados and you are good to go.


Easy enchilada casserole

 1 (28-ounce) can of red enchilada sauce (or homemade)

1 pound ground beef, chicken or turkey

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Pinch cayenne (more to taste)

2 cans pinto beans or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 ½ cups favorite salsa

1/2 cup cilantro, minced

2 cups pepper jack cheese, grated

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

8-10 corn tortillas

Garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, jalapeno slices, and cilantro


Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, chicken or turkey and cook until cooked through. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika and cayenne. 

Spray a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour a little bit of enchilada sauce on bottom of casserole dish. Layer half of the corn tortillas, half of the cooked meat, half of the beans, half of the salsa, half of the cilantro, and half of the grated cheese. Repeat layer. Bake casserole in preheated 350 degree oven until cheese is melted and casserole is hot. 

Garnish with avocado slices, sour cream, jalapeno and more cilantro.

 •    •    •

Gruyere, spinach casserole

 1 16-ounce bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 eggs

1 ½ cups milk

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground

1 ¼ cups Gruyere cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9- by 13-inch dish with non-stick cooking spray. Drain thawed spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add onion, cooking until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and spinach, cooking another few minutes. Drain out any excess liquid. Whisk eggs in a large bowl and then add milk, salt and nutmeg. Stir in the spinach mixture and cheese. Pour into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes until set. Cool for five minutes and cut into wedges.