Our Best Casseroles for Freezing-Cold Nights
There are few things more warming on a frigid evening than a cheesy, bubbling baked-in-one-dish meal.
A Different Kind of Babka
It turns out that chocolaty bread isn't the only babka
. In her new book, Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking
, Bonnie Frumkin Morales explains that in Belarus (where the average temperature in January is around 24 degrees), babka is a type of warm-you-right-up casserole. Potato babka is the most common of this genre, and her version gets sweetness and color from grated carrot. There's also a smoky flavor from diced slab bacon, and a gorgeous (optional) soufleé topping that sounds more complicated than it really is: You just spread a mixture of whisked mayonnaise and egg over the top of the baked casserole and broil it for a few minutes until it's puffy and golden-brown.
Get the recipe: Potato and Carrot Babka
Photo: Tracey Kusiewicz/Foodie Photography
The Casserole from an Unlikely Region
This Dutch-by-way-of-the-Caribbean casserole from Emily Wight's new Dutch Feast
is surprisingly wonderful for a cold night (who'd have thought the tropics could inspire such a warming dish?). It's called keshi yena, and originated in the Dutch territories Aruba and Curaçao. Chicken, bell pepper, celery and tomatoes might have you thinking the dish is traditional enough, but the spices—smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne—along with briny capers and sweet prunes, give it an unexpected sweet-salty-spiced flavor that'll help you shake off a chill. Plus, two ingredients we don't see often in casseroles—Gouda and roasted cashews—deliver a pleasant creamy/crunchy contrast.
Get the recipe: Keshi Yena
A Mash-Up of 2 of the Most Winning Casseroles Ever
Basically mac 'n' cheese in lasagna form, this decadent recipe from Lasagne
, by Sandra Mahut, is perfect for those times when you just can't decide which form of carbs-and-cheese comfort food you want. First, you make the cheese sauce by warming heavy cream, crumbling in Gorgonzola and stirring in cottage cheese. The cheeses melt into the cream, and then you spoon this mixture onto the lasagna noodle sheets along with slices of goat cheese and mozzarella, layering as you go. Bake for about 25 minutes, let sit for five and then enjoy this ideal combo of creamy and sharp flavors.
Get the recipe: Four-Cheese Lasagne
The Low-Effort, Big-Payoff Casserole
After an afternoon of shoveling snow, you may not be up for the task of making an involved dinner—yet you still want something warm and delicious. Meet the Tater Tot Casserole, which uses just six ingredients (plus salt and pepper). It's a delicious combination of ground beef, mushrooms and tots laced with shreds of sharp cheddar cheese that's supereasy to prepare.
Get the recipe: Tater Tot Casserole
The Casserole for Sweet Potato Lovers
When supermarket display bins are overflowing with copper-fleshed sweet potatoes (generally from late October into January), turn to this easy, make-ahead recipe. It combines the versatile and gorgeously hued tuber with sautéed chicken breasts seasoned with sage, thyme, onion and bacon, plus a creamy white sauce. (And if you can find sweet potatoes that are actually labeled "yams," use them; they have the darker skin and richer-colored flesh that add a lovely hue to this meal.)
Get the recipe: Chicken, Sweet Potato and Bacon Casserole
An Alternative Way to Eat a Beloved Veggie
We love shaved-Brussels-sprouts salad as much as anyone, but on a chilly night, a salad has nothing on a casserole. Enter this brown-rice bake, which incorporates cooked Brussels sprouts and onion with white wine, chicken stock, apples and thyme, as well as a smattering of cheddar and slivered almonds. The finished dish has the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
Get the recipe: Cheddar and Brussels Sprouts Rice Bake