Penne Pasta Quattro Formaggi with Butternut Squash and Sage

Photo: Paige Green

The Italian-Accented Mac 'n' Cheese
This take on crowd-pleasing baked ziti (which actually calls for penne) is plenty cheesy, thanks to a mixture of Fontina, blue cheese, Pecorino Romano and Parmesan. But instead of a tomato-based sauce, the dish relies on two unexpected ingredients: roasted butternut squash and sage. They lend depth you don't usually find with acidic (read tomato-y) sauces.

Get the recipe: Penne Pasta Quattro Formaggi with Butternut Squash and Sage
Sesame Baked Eggs

Photo: Leann Mueller

The Vegetarian Rice Dish with Unexpected Flavor
It's rare to find classic Asian ingredients in a casserole, yet they come together just as beautifully in the oven as they do in a more traditional stove-top method of cooking. This flavorful dish starts with a layer of cooked brown rice. Next comes a tasty combination of sautéed Swiss chard, onion and ginger, mixed with coconut milk, soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. On top of that, you crack eggs and bake until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny; when they come out of the oven, the bright yellow will look stunning against the greens. You can make this in one large casserole dish or in individual ramekins for a more elegant presentation.

Get the recipe: Sesame Baked Eggs
Mamaw's Stuffed Peppers

Photo: alisafarov/iStock/Thinkstock

The Peppers That Are Ready for a Revival
Stuffed peppers may not be the trendiest dish on today's tables, but we still love the novelty of getting an individually sized bell pepper neatly packed with savory, seasoned beef on our plate. Plus, once the peppers are stuffed, they freeze well, so it's easy to make this dish ahead of time. Just make the bread crumbs and sauce fresh on the day you want to serve the dish. Thaw the peppers, assemble and bake.

Get the recipe: Mamaw's Stuffed Peppers
Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

Photo: Jennifer May

A Classic Casserole with a Company-Worthy Upgrade
This homespun "hotdish" is an update on the famous chicken-wild rice combination. Instead of the familiar canned-cream-soup base, though, it starts with a simple, fresh mushroom sauce, which adds worlds more flavor. However, the topping, made from Ritz or Keebler Club crackers, is unchanged, so traditionalists (or anyone who loves that buttery crunch) will be thrilled.

Get the recipe: Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish
Shrimp and white bean cassoulet

Photo: Antonis Achilleos

The Updated Bistro Classic
A traditional French casserole, cassoulet is usually made with sausage, duck fat and beans. This recipe has you use shrimp instead of meat, though, which takes away some of the heaviness and also has the bonus of cooking in a flash, so you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen. Creamy white beans are still present, though, and leeks and garlic add a flavor boost. A finishing touch of bread crumbs get a pop of color from flecks of chopped parsley.

Get the recipe: Shrimp and White Bean Cassoulet

Photo: Thinkstock

The Individualized Parcels
Crystal Cook, one half of the dinner-making duo known as the Casserole Queens had an aunt Joan who oozed charm and elegance. This dish, inspired by one of her recipes, practically does the same. It's a spin on the well-known chicken-and-broccoli casserole, and is perfect for a gathering, since each portion comes wrapped in its own crepe. It goes well with a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.

Get the recipe: Chicken Divan Crêpes with Gruyère
Pot pies

Photo: Andrew Purcell

A Revised Rendition of the Savory Pie Everyone Loves
These potpies, made with a hearty mix of mushrooms, barley and white beans, are just as delicious as the traditional chicken version—but won't leave guests in a food coma. You top each one with phyllo dough; it's a quicker, flakier and lighter alternative to the usual butter-heavy dough.

Get the recipe: Vegetable-Barley Potpies
Pumpkin lasagna

Photo: Elegant Affairs Caterers

A Veggie Lasagna That Will Change the Way You Think About Lasagna
Too often, meatless lasagna includes a jumble of lumpy, bland-tasting vegetables. Not this bright dish, though. Its wonder ingredient is pumpkin—which tastes rich and melds seamlessly with the pasta and cheese. You just mix canned pumpkin puree with flavorings that are both familiar (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove) and unexpected (sautéed garlic); and then, spread it into a dish with the noodles, ricotta and mozzarella cheese.

Get the recipe: Pumpkin Lasagna