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Comfort casseroles


Spicy Polenta Lasagna is a no-pasta interpretation of a one-dish item assembled in layers. The dish is a robust combination of sausages, cheese and polenta, plus tomatoes. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Spicy Polenta Lasagna is a no-pasta interpretation of a one-dish item assembled in layers. The dish is a robust combination of sausages, cheese and polenta, plus tomatoes. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

As fall weather turns thoughts hungrily to warming dinners, what’s more welcoming for diners and easier for cooks than a hearty casserole, bubbling hot from the oven, wreathed in tasty aromas?

Here are a couple of recipes to set mouths watering with their rich smells coming from the kitchen, to say nothing of the flavor they deliver.

Smoky Vegetable Casserole

Recipe created for the Associated Press from Tabasco/McIlhenny Co.

1 cup couscous

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1 tablespoon chipotle pepper sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size chunks

1 medium yellow squash, cut into bite-size chunks

1 medium red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-size chunks

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-size chunks

19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss-style cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine couscous, broth, 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 2-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over high heat. Cover and remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, red and green peppers and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper sauce.

Combine couscous, vegetable mixture, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and shredded cheese in 2-quart shallow casserole dish. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until mixture is heated through.

Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 295 calories, 7 grams fat (1.8 grams saturated, 21 percent fat calories), 13 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrate, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams dietary fiber, 736 milligrams sodium.

Spicy Polenta Lasagna

Recipe created for the Associated Press from Tabasco/McIlhenny Co.

8 ounces sweet Italian sausage links

1 medium onion, diced

14 1/2 -ounce can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

18-ounce tube prepared polenta, cut into 1/2 -inch-thick slices

1 cup shredded mozzarella or fontina cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove casing from sausage links; break up meat. Cook sausage until well browned on all sides in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove sausage to bowl. In drippings remaining in skillet, cook onion until softened over medium heat. Add to bowl with sausage. Stir in tomatoes and their liquid and hot pepper sauce.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet. Cook polenta slices, half at a time, until browned on both sides. Repeat with remaining butter and polenta slices.

Spoon half of sausage mixture into a 9-by-9-inch baking dish. Top with half of polenta slices, and half of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layer again, ending with Parmesan cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is hot and bubbly.

Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 436 calories, 31 grams fat (14 grams saturated, 64 percent fat calories), 20 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrate, 78 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams dietary fiber, 1,152 milligrams sodium.

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