Vegetarian Casserole Ideas
Winner, winner meatless dinner.
Casseroles conjure images of gooey dishes of nostalgia, so it’s no wonder they’re a symbol of comfort food. And though many rely on meat and fish — hello, tuna noodle! — there’s no need to to rely on meat to make a satisfying casserole. In fact, casseroles are a great way to use up whatever veggies you have on hand or showcase seasonal produce at its peak. Here are some of our favorite vegetarian casseroles to add to your recipe repertoire. And feel free to adapt based on what you’ve got and what you like — basically, if you can you imagine it, you can casserole it.
Cook Up the Classics
Broccoli and Cheese Casserole is a fan-favorite vegetarian dish that’s a welcome addition to weeknight dinner tables and holiday spreads alike. In this uber-comforting take, tender broccoli is enrobed in a creamy Cheddar sauce and blanketed with a buttery cracker topping, then baked till bubbling. For her Best Broccoli Rice Casserole, Ree Drummond combines cream cheese, Parmesan, Cheddar and processed cheese to create an extra gooey sauce, all the better to cling to the broccoli and rice as it bakes. This Broccoli and Orzo Casserole is a top contender for your next Meatless Monday dinner. Instead of rice, this recipe calls for orzo, a short-cut pasta, and pulls in Havarti, a creamy, mild Danish cheese that melts well (if you want to punch things up, opt for dill- or caraway-flecked Havarti).
Cauliflower is another vegetable that triumphs in the casserole treatment. For her Cauliflower Gratin, Ina Garten boils florets till tender but firm, then bakes them in a creamy roux-based sauce bolstered with nutty Gruyere. Bobby Flay sends his florets straight into a baking dish then layers them with heavy cream and Monterey Jack, Parmesan and goat cheese for this ultra-creamy Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin. Damaris Phillips brings added dimension to her Curry Cauliflower and Rice Casserole by whisking curry powder into the roux and folding in Manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese whose buttery flavor plays off the cauliflower’s earthy sweetness.
Think of this Stuffed Mushroom Casserole as a cross between cream of mushroom soup casserole and stuffed mushrooms. Instead of stuffing individual mushrooms, you get all the taste of both the iconic casserole and all-star appetizer in a fraction of the time (file this one away for the holiday season).
Spin It With the Seasons
Look to the season to give peak produce a starring turn in a veggie-friendly one-pan meal. When spring rolls around, usher in this most verdant of seasons with Trisha Yearwood’s Asparagus Casserole. To showcase their snappy texture, she quickly boils aspargus until crisp-tender, then bakes them under a light topping of cheese, hard-boiled eggs and cracker crumbs till lightly browned.
Banish the thought that casseroles are a winter food. Come summer, you’ll discover an abundance of seasonal casserole inspiration. This Lightly Spicy Zucchini and Tomato Casserole pairs garden zukes with pantry-ready diced fire-roasted tomatoes (though fresh tomatoes would work well here, too). Be sure to broil the zucchini first, which is key to ensuring they bake evenly once the tomatoes are added. Ina’s Zucchini Gratin is bolstered by sliced onion in a nutmeg-laced roux. This Fresh Corn Casserole makes a convincing case for making cream of corn casserole beyond the holiday table. Summer sweet kernels are cut straight from the cob, tossed with flour, and combined with butter, milk and a dash of brown sugar.
As Hugh Acheson says, squash casserole is about as Southern as you can get. It’s also an excellent way to use up the summer crop, no matter where you call home. The Georgia-based chef riffs on the classic by adding a leek crema — get his step-by-step tips in his Squash Casserole class on the Food Network Kitchen app.
Valerie Bertinelli’s End of Summer Vegetable Gratin (pictured) calls to mind ratatouille, a Provencal dish of baked eggplant, squash, zucchini and tomato. Be sure to save the vegetable juices that accumulate in the bottom of the roasting pan to mop up with crusty bread. This summer-into-fall Healthy Squash and Kale Casserole packs a veggie punch with a trio of zucchini, yellow squash and kale. As a bonus, you can prep and freeze this casserole ahead of time and pull it out when you need quick dinner.
In fall and winter, squash, tubers and cruciferous vegetables make excellent additions to your casserole cannon. Transition to the season with Rachael Ray’s Autumn Potato Gratin, a rustic take on potatoes gratin that stars mixed baby potatoes like Red Bliss, Peruvian Purples and Fingerlings cloaked in an herb-flecked cream, all baked under a flurry of Parmesan. Marcela Valladolid’s Spicy Sweet Potato Casserole is a welcome departure from the sweet potato casserole that typically graces the Thanksgiving table. She seasons the sweet potatoes with fresh oregano, chipotle and garlic to let their sweet earthiness shine; adding cream part-way through the bake elevates these roasted veggies into casserole territory.
Make Casserole a Verb
With a dose of ingenuity, you can transform your favorite dishes into baked one-pan wonders. When cooked spaghetti is baked with eggs and cheese, it’s transformed into Skillet Spaghetti Casserole. It’s a great way to use up leftover pasta and whatever cheese you have on hand, but a duo of capers and raisins keep it from being one-note. This Grilled Cheese-and-Tomato Casserole (pictured up top) unites a classic comfort food pairing — grilled cheese and tomato soup — into a quick-baked dish that feeds a crowd in less time.
For her Zucchini-Tortilla Casserole (Pastel Azteca), Marcela layers quick-fried tortillas with a tomato sauce mixture and sautéed fresh zucchini and corn for a satisfying seasonal supper. Follow that same formula to dream up your own tortilla-based casserole, like this Layered Vegetable Enchilada Casserole, which pulls in jarred enchilada sauce and chopped spinach. Or try this Vegan Tortilla Casserole. It’s loaded with butternut squash, beans and kale and plenty creamy thanks to a cashew-based cheese sauce.
Use Your Noodle
Pasta plus veggies equals winner, winner casserole dinner. This Buffalo Cauliflower Baked Mac and Cheese delivers all the flavor of buffalo chicken wings minus the meat, and the cauliflower adds a dose of veggie goodness too. Serve as a substantial side or as a meatless main paired with a green salad. Giada De Laurentiis’ fan-favorite Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables is a wonderful addition to your weeknight dinner rotation, but the trio of cheeses, including smoked mozzarella, fontina and Parmesan make it feel a bit fancy, too. By enrobing penne in both pureed greens and a cheesy sauce before baking, Ree’s Mean Green Pasta Casserole serves up comfort and veggies in equal measure.
Make It Breakfast
Whether you’re planning weekend brunch or need breakfast for dinner inspiration, egg-based casseroles are a satisfying make-ahead option. Try this Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Breakfast Casserole, where bread cubes bake with an egg-and-veggie mixture to create a hearty meatless casserole that can be eaten hot or at room temperature. It’s a great way to use up stale bread since the egg mixture soaks right in and the tops of the cubes bake up into a crunchy crust. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand, though we think this Sourdough Strata with Tomatoes and Greens, starring plum tomatoes and hardy greens like kale, spinach or arugula, makes for a particularly satisfying bite. For a sweet finish, bake up this Coconut Almond French Toast Casserole, which yields a big batch of French toast without making the host feel like a short order cook.