king ranch chicken

Photo: © Iain Bagwell

The Lone Star Spin on a Classic Chicken Dinner
This Tex-Mex addition to the casserole cannon, from Jessica Dupuy's new United Tastes of Texas, combines the usual baked cheese with some zippy add-ins: spicy chili powder, fiery roasted peppers and earthy cumin. The protein here is smoked chicken, but you could also use a rotisserie bird. You mix the chopped meat with cooked onion and bell and poblano peppers; then layer tortillas, the chicken and vegetables and a smattering of Monterey Jack and cheddar, repeating until you've filled a baking dish. The finished dish embodies comfort—with a kick.

Get the recipe: King Ranch Chicken
Baked Ziti with Charred Tomatoes

Photo: Joe Keller/Keller + Keller

The Unfussy Version of a Hearty Italian Favorite
Making baked ziti can be time-consuming, since it often entails making sauce, boiling pasta and assembling and baking the dish. The smart cooks behind Cook It in Cast Iron (the latest cookbook from the experts at America's Test Kitchen) streamlined the process and managed to achieve excellent results in less time (and with fewer pots!). The secret: a cast-iron skillet. It helps give the tomatoes a char that infuses the sauce with deep flavor. Plus, you cook the ziti right in the sauce, so you don't need an extra pot.

Get the recipe: Baked Ziti with Charred Tomatoes
20-Minute Skillet-Baked Shrimp and Feta

Photo: Emilie Raffa

A 20-Minute Mediterranean Masterpiece
Subtly sweet-tasting shrimp and tangy feta are such a natural match that you don't need to do much to make them taste great together. In her new book, The Clever Cookbook, Emilie Raffa turns the duo into a hearty—and speedy—meal with the addition of tomato sauce and some flavor boosters (onion, garlic and oregano). The one-dish meal only needs some crusty bread to be a wonderfully satisfying supper with sunny Greek vibes.

Get the recipe: 20-Minute Skillet-Baked Shrimp and Feta
pineapple casserole

Photo: Lennart Weibull

An Unlikely Combination You Have to Taste to Believe
Pineapple and pimento cheese may seem a little out-there, but chef Sarah Simmons, who grew up in North Carolina and now runs the restaurant Birds & Bubbles, in New York City, promises it's fantastic. "It's got a little salt, a little sweet, a little texture and creaminess." You stir together a pimento-cheese mixture with pineapple, spoon it into a baking dish, top it with buttered, toasted cornbread crumbs and bake until it's browned and bubbly. The sweet and savory side is perfect with pork or ham.

Get the recipe: Pineapple Casserole
Saffron Rice Pilaf with Lamb Meatballs, Red Peppers and Dates

Photo: Susie Cushner

The Casserole That Reinvents Spaghetti and Meatballs
We were smitten when we found this no-fuss, delicious and different casserole. It starts with bite-size meatballs made from ground lamb and seasoned with cumin, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper. You nestle them into a baked rice pilaf during the last few minutes of cooking, and the golden yellow rice (scented with saffron) gets bright pops of color from the red bell pepper.

Get the recipe: Saffron Rice Pilaf with Lamb Meatballs, Red Peppers and Dates