Melting Pot Casserole

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READY IN: 1hr 25mins
Recipe by AmyZoe

This is the best casserole I've ever eaten. It takes a little extra effort, but it's worth it because the flavor is phenomenal. I've used simpler "flexible formulas" for making casseroles to use up cupboard odds and ends, but I've never done it with a white sauce. WOW! If you want to jazz up a basic casserole, this is for you. Recipe courtesy of Jim Fobel's Casseroles, Tasty Recipes for Everyday Living and Casual Entertaining.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and lightly oil a shallow 2-quart casserole or 8-9" square pan.
  2. Drop pasta into a large pot of lightly salted boiling water over high heat.
  3. Stir until the boil returns and then frequently until the pasta is tender but firm (10 to 12 minutes).
  4. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Add the oregano, basil, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and toss again.
  6. Spoon the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large skillet over moderate heat.
  7. Add the onion and saute to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic, hot pepper, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  9. Saute for 1 minute longer and add the meat. Increase the heat and lightly brown for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over moderate heat.
  11. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. The mixture will be dry.
  12. Pour in the milk and stir over moderate heat until thickened and simmering.
  13. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  14. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
  15. Spoon 1/3 of the pasta into the prepared casserole.
  16. Top with half of the meat.
  17. Spoon on 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce.
  18. Add half of the cooked vegetables and 1/3 of the cheese sauce.
  19. Repeat the layering once more.
  20. Top with the remaining pasta.
  21. Drizzle the remaining tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese sauce and bread crumbs.
  22. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and bubbly around the edges. Serve hot.
  23. If you reheat this dish later from room temperature: bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. If it's cold add and extra 15 minutes.

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