Summer is great for getting outside and enjoying the warm weather and seemingly endless evenings with friends. It's the perfect time of year for a backyard potluck. But things can get tricky when it comes to figuring out what food to bring to a get-together. If everyone followed their first instinct--or at least my first instinct--you'd end up with a party full of salads and nothing else. Party foul.
Consider whipping up one of these delicious summer casseroles instead. They're quick to put together, packed with fresh seasonal veggies, great to make ahead (some are even freezable if you want to keep them on hand for future soirees) and sure-fire crowd-pleasers. Party on!
Zucchini Rice Casserole
We pack extra vegetables into this cheesy baked rice casserole. Plus we substitute brown rice for white, reduce the cheese by half and swap turkey sausage for pork sausage. If you're bringing it to a potluck, plan to reheat it before serving.
Quick Shrimp Enchilada Bake
Shrimp enchiladas offer a taste of coastal Mexican cuisine but some versions contain so much cheese, butter and sour cream that they can pack a whopping 50 grams of fat per serving. Our version has vibrant flavor and only half the calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, plus we use precooked peeled shrimp so you can get the dish on your table fast enough for a weeknight supper. The addition of refried beans helps makes these enchiladas an excellent source of fiber as well.
Our version of this enchilada-style chilaquiles casserole is packed with nutritious beans and vegetables. Canned prepared enchilada sauce has great flavor and keeps the prep time quick. It can vary in heat level, so find one that suits your taste. If you want to eliminate the heat altogether, try a green enchilada sauce (which is often milder than red) or substitute two 8-ounce cans of plain tomato sauce.
A gratin is any dish topped with cheese or breadcrumbs mixed with butter, then heated until browned--but it needn't be heavy. This one has plenty of garden-fresh tomatoes and herbs, a touch of full-flavored cheese and a crispy crumb topping
Provençal Summer Vegetables
This stunning side dish of layered tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash and leeks bursts with fresh flavor. To make it even more colorful, use half a summer squash and half a zucchini. Try it alongside any grilled meat. Leftovers are delicious sandwiched between slices of crusty whole-grain bread.
Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole (pictured above)
Chiles and cheese turn mild summer squash into a zesty, satisfying casserole. The jalapenos make this dish quite hot; if you prefer a milder version, use a second can of diced green chiles instead.
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 1 1/2 hours | To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered, at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Garnish just before serving.
2 1/4 pounds summer squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups)
2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
1 4 1/2-ounce can chopped jalapenos (about 1/2 cup), drained
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 1/4 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 7 ounces), divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup mild salsa
4 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Combine squash, onion, chiles, jalapenos, salt and 3/4 cup cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour; toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
3. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Spoon salsa over the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and red onion.
Makes: 12 servings
Per serving: 101 calories; 5 g fat (4 g sat, 0 g mono); 15 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 258 mg sodium; 265 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (30% daily value).
What's your favorite summer casserole?
By Matthew Thompson
Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.
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