Casserole or Chili or ???
April 27, 2019 2:05 PM   Subscribe

I have a long day in the car & etc on Monday. What would be a good slightly festive dinner that I can either a) make on Sunday & just reheat or b) have sitting in a crockpot for ~14 hours or so? Difficulty level: will eat seafood but mostly vegetarian.

My daughter is coming to visit! Yay! She is flying into Portland on Monday morning and then we plan to spend the day in the city, seeing some old friends and doing a little light shopping. It's a roughly two hour drive home. We'll be arriving back in Astoria probably around 8 at night, probably starving, probably ready to settle in with drinks. I would like to have something at least semi special to serve for her first night here but I don't want to cook (beyond dumping a bag of salad into a bowl) at all when I get back. I have a crockpot, all the other usual accoutrements, am an experienced and generally accounted pretty good home cook. I thought of chili but it's so boring; I thought of tuna casserole which she loved as a small child but the 90s are over and I think we have both outgrown it. Thank you for your ideas!! I did look at all the other casserole questions, yes, and while I found some cool recipes I didn't find anything that was quite right.
posted by mygothlaundry to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Spaghetti sauce? Make ahead and then reheat, dump bag of salad into bowl, boil water/cook pasta (does that count as cooking?) while doing those things. Maybe make garlic bread ahead of time and pop into oven when the pasta is cooking. You could have dinner on the table in about 15 minutes!
posted by bookmammal at 2:16 PM on April 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

For make on Sunday and reheat on Monday, I recommend a caramelized onion and tomato tart as a special vegetarian dinner. We do this often as the vegetarian main at family dinners and I almost always make it the day before.

Epicurious uses a frozen pie shell (and lies about how long you need to cook the onions) but it's basically what I do. (I use the Once Upon a Tart rrecipe for the shell).

Actually, any savory tart will do.
Smitten has a good onion and cauliflower tart.
Food & Wine has an adaptable rustic vegetable tart. And I find this leek, fennel and mushroom galette festive.
posted by crush at 2:25 PM on April 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Vegetable coconut curry made the night before because it will taste better reheated?

-Slice up an eggplant and then cut in quarters, coat with olive oil and roast for 10 min in oven at 400 degrees. In the meantime:
-Slice up a large yellow onion and saute in a large frying pan until golden.
-Add chopped garlic
-Add a 14 oz can of whole tomatoes, drained, chopped up, to pan
-Add a can of coconut milk (blend first if separated)
-Add some (frozen) cauliflower florets
-Add some sliced carrots (I microwave them first to pre-cook)
-Add whatever curry-type spices and chili you have, to taste
-Add the roasted eggplant

Simmer covered for 20-25 minutes and then uncover for another 5 minutes to thicken up.
Serve over rice.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:28 PM on April 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well, I was going shopping today, and didn't want to cook when I got home, so I made a cheese and broccoli quiche. It was cool enough so that I could let it cool on the counter, but you could make it earlier and then put it in the fridge and warm slightly, if you both eat dairy.

I just did 1 small head of broccoli, chopped into baby heads, steamed in the microwave for 3 minutes with a plate on top of the bowl, then removed the plate and let cool. I used a pre-made pie crust and let it thaw. I had 2 types of cheese, and I layer it with cheese on the bottom, then broccoli, then finely chopped shallot (or green onion, that would work too), then more cheese, then my second cheese mix, then 6-7 eggs mixed with a hefty dollop of cream. I also sprinkled some white pepper and paprika over the filling before pouring the egg-cream mixture on top.

Into the oven at 350 F for 40-45 minutes. I checked it at 35 minutes, and it was still too wobbly, but about 45 minutes, it was perfect, then I could take it out and let it cool, while we went about the rest of our day.

There are so many variants on quiche, yet it's elegant, especially if you use cream. The key is to pick one or two elements, and not crowd it so much (which was my mistake back when I was first starting out). It can also be eaten at room temperature, and served with a salad.

Other ideas would be something like Jacques Pepin's lavash with sour cream and smoked salmon. You take any kind of flat bread, spread with sour cream, layer with smoked salmon and capers, and thinly sliced red onion, and cut it into pieces like a pizza. I've done this on puff pastry and that's a bit rich, so I'd follow his original suggestion, ha-ha. That requires some assembly when you get home, however, so that might be good for a breakfast.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:30 PM on April 27, 2019

Veggie Thai style curry with lots of fat is one of the most luxuriant vegetarian meals I know of, and hey you can add some shrimp or other seafood if you want to be special that way too. Good basic framework above, I’d add a second can of full fat coconut milk, and specify a high quality Thai curry paste. And yes it is better the second day, generally soups, stews and curries all are so I would do that over leaving a slow cooker for 14 hrs.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:41 PM on April 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

How about updated tuna noodle casserole? Nostalgic visit home with home food sounds just right for the occasion. I think you could cook the whole thing and lightly reheat when you get home. Or, you could prep everything - put the noodles in the pan on the stove, make the sauce (combine crème fraîche, egg, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice), measure the peas and parsley into a container, measure the remaining 1 T of lemon juice into a container, prepare crumbled ritz crackers or potato chips for topping on the side. Then when you get home, cover the noodles with water, simmer for the right number of minutes, drain all but 1 cup, simmer down, add sauce until thick, then toss with peas and tuna and parsley and lemon juice, serve with crackers or potato chips and the salad.
posted by RoadScholar at 2:51 PM on April 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lasagna (veg-only or lots of veg but also a bag of vegetarian crumbles for the texture; with pasta or without, low-carb style) is always so much better the next day, even microwaved. Then you can prep some make-ahead garlic bread and have that in the fridge to throw in the oven while you reheat the lasagna and throw together salad. (And then this justifies buying a good bakery or frozen tiramisu for dessert.)

Cook's Illustrated veg lasagna; Barefoot Contessa, which is more like what I improvise. Also note you do not have to make lasagna with lasagna noodles if you want to simplify it as a "pasta bake" or just want a toothier noodle situation - I like rotini or shells.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:40 PM on April 27, 2019

I'm a vegan whose diet consists mostly of homemade, long-cooking stews and savory soups and such. I can't stop making this Moroccan red lentil stew. It's great over rice or with your favorite crunchy carb or just by itself. And like most stews, it's even better the second day.
posted by mykescipark at 5:06 PM on April 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

This eggplant and penne dish is rich and satisfying and is quick to prepare, plus benefits from being made a day in advance. Just put it in the casserole dish, pop it in the fridge, and toss it in the oven when you get home. Nibble on some olives and bread, have an apertif, unwind, and by the time you're ready for dinner, dinner is ready for you! It's comforting and make-ahead, but the fresh basil and the olives make it feel fancy. Vegan and delicious without the feta. (Very very very good with the feta, though.)
posted by halation at 7:02 PM on April 27, 2019

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