Oh My Potluck!

Good recipes to share with friends.

Asparagus No Expense Casserole (vegetarian)

asparaguscasseroleYou officially have 3 days left to enter the A16 Food + Wine book draw, happening December 22nd, 2013! It’s really easy, follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook and/or comment on the post.

But onto my adventures. I present another winning recipe from the kitchen of Kat. The asparagus casserole in questions is like the creamy, dense casseroles that remind me of my Grandma.

That said, I never had asparagus as a kid. My mom hates the vitamin and fibre rich vegetable. Ever since I had some when I was visiting friends in Montreal, I haven’t been able to say no to the spears.

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Having attempted to create many casseroles and recently attaining a growing success rate, I think I can say that one key part of a good casserole is pre-cooking the components, like vegetables, pastas and grains. It makes a huge difference in the overall mood of the dish. If you cook the veggies until their tender, but not soft, they finish their cooking in the dish and also release more of their flavours. That’s my theory.

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I am exploring the balance of flavours a lot more. Like, how to combine sweet, salt, sour, fat and umami in just the right way. It’s like a good party. You don’t want a whole bunch of really loud, showy people. You need some people who like to observe and listen, but the party can’t be overcome by those people either! Each flavour brings its own thing and balances out the others. When you take it as a whole, it all just jives.

I read that it’s also really important to taste your recipes as your cooking . Just because a recipe says to use a teaspoon of salt, you could need more or less depending on the potency of the other ingredients, especially if you’re using fruits and vegetables, which can really vary. Even different brands of the same product can offer a lot of diversity. Although I’m a very methodical person in the kitchen, I can really see the importance of this and have diverging from recipe recommendations a lot more recently.

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When I went down to California I found a lot of Ghirardelli chocolate, which comes from San Francisco. It was everywhere. It is fairly more difficult to find it in Calgary, however, there is  a Purdy’s Chocolatier in every mall here, which is apparently a very British Columbian and Albertan phenomenon. It’s extraordinary that we live in such a connected world and there are still these  products that are only available in pockets.

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One brilliant Canadian phenomenon is Zaki Ibrahim. She was born in British Columbia, with parents from South Africa. She’s worked with people from around the world, like Spoek Mathambo, and keeps her music rich with meaning and genre-defying qualities. She does this way more than this casserole, but she can really rock, check out her song “The Do”.

Asparagus No Expense Casserole

Good for a potluck of about ten people, serves about five on its own.

  • 6 ounces french bread, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut to 1 inch segments
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (10 1/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C)
  2. Lay the bread cubes out on a cookie sheet. In the heated oven, bake the bread until dry but not toasted, about 5 minutes. Place the toasted bread in bottom of greased 3 quart casserole dish.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large frying pan. Saute the onions until soft (2-3 minutes). Add the asparagus, carrots, lemon juice and a dash of salt. Cook until just tender (about 6 minutes). Turn off the heat. Stir in the mushroom soup, sour cream, remaining salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, 2/3 cup cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoon silvered almonds. Pour the mixture over the bread in the casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and almonds over top. Cover and bake for half an hour. Remove lid and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese starts to brown. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, cover and bring to the potluck. It may require another 10 to 15 minutes in the oven, if not served right away.

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2 comments on “Asparagus No Expense Casserole (vegetarian)

  1. Rae
    December 20, 2013

    It’s more than hate of the vegetable, dear, it actually makes me nauseated. Literally, in the literal and not figurative sense of the word. I’ve tried it from time to time to see if my taste has changed, but no.

    I’ll say Bernard Callebaut is an Alberta phenomenon, even more specifically, a Calgary phenomenon where he opened his first store.

    But now Mr Callebaut is no longer associated with the store that bears his name and he has a new venture called Papa Chocolat.

    • kahht
      December 21, 2013

      I’m sorry asparagus nauseates you. I really am.

      I was debating whether to use Callebaut or Purdy’s, but it was easier to say there’s a Purdy’s in every mall… but Bernard Callebaut is, truly, a Calgary landmark.

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This entry was posted on December 20, 2013 by in Casserole, Main Dish, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , .

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