It can be liberating to cook without a recipe, though depending on your skill in the kitchen and how frequently you’re cooking at home, the turnout can be hit or miss. Here’s a pretty foolproof no-recipe option that allows you to use up leftovers and is sure to please more people than not. Who doesn’t like a one-pot dish covered in bubbly browned cheese and breadcrumbs?
The No-Recipe Casserole
1. Saute aromatics.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook aromatics like onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, ginger, or chiles in a few tablespoons of oil or butter over medium heat until softened and fragrant. A large ovenproof skillet is best, so you can build the casserole right in the pan.
2. Vary the flavors.
Stir spices or other seasonings into the aromatics to give the casserole its characteristic flavor. Chipotle chiles in adobo lend a smoky heat; Dijon mustard and thyme or tarragon lend a French flair; for Italian flavors, try rosemary and lemon zest; for Chinese, five-spice powder and soy sauce do the trick; and for Indian flavors, add curry powder or garam masala.
3. Build in the main ingredients.
Casseroles are the perfect place for leftovers like cooked vegetables, grains, pasta, beans, or meat. You can also stir in frozen or quick-cooking raw vegetables or greens (saute those until just short of tender before proceeding).