One Cheap Casserole

It’s been pretty cold and dreary during the last couple of weeks, especially in my apartment which only has one heat source (taken over by the cat) and is poorly insulated.  When the weather turns cold, I usually like to pull out my slow cooker and start making soups and dishes that can double as lunch during the week, but it’s too cold for that. This recipe is all about turning on the oven (heat!) and making something that is low-cost, satisfying, and lasts for a few days.

The Cat

This potato leek casserole cost roughly $20 to make and it could have easily fed six people with an appetite.

Here’s what you’ll need:

7 Yukon gold potatoes

5 leeks

1 yellow onion

1 bunch of green onions

4-5 cups of sharp cheddar cheese (depending on taste)

2 cups of milk

2 tablespoons of butter

3-4 cloves of garlic

About 20 chives

When cooking with leeks, it’s important to make sure that you clean in between all the layers and get rid of the dirt and sand.  Cut them in half, then slice them down the middle and place them in warm water to soak.

Once that’s done, move on to the potatoes.  I chose to peel mine because I don’t have a vegetable scrubber and the potatoes I had weren’t coming clean with just water, but you can leave the skins on for texture if you prefer.  Slice them into rounds that are about a quarter of an inch thick and place them in a large pot with water, salt, and olive oil.

Cook the potatoes on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until they soften slightly.  While the potatoes are cooking, chop the onion and garlic and put them in a large sauté pan to set aside for later.  If you’re easily distracted (like me), there’s a good chance that while you’re chopping the onion and garlic, the potatoes are overcooking.  You should check them now.

Check the leeks to make sure they’re clean and pat them down with a paper towel.  Start cutting them into small pieces about a quarter to a third of an inch wide.  Once the leeks are all chopped, cut the green onions into bits about the same size as the leeks.  Now you can sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until they’ve caramelized, adding the leeks and green onions afterwards.

Cook the leeks until they’ve softened, which should take about five to seven minutes.

Get your casserole dish (9 x 10) and put a layer of potatoes down first, sprinkling cheese over the top.  Add a layer of leeks and onions and alternate until you’ve used all the ingredients, finishing with the leeks on top.  Now, chop up the chives and set them aside.

For the cheese sauce, get a small sauce pan and add your milk and butter.  The temperature should be just lower than medium and you’ll want to stir it often.  Once the butter melts, stir in the two cups of cheese.  As soon as all the cheese has mixed in, spoon the sauce over the top of the casserole.  Use the remaining grated cheese over the top, add the chives, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until the cheese starts bubbling.


Do you have any favorite recipes that you can throw together on a budget?


6 replies on “One Cheap Casserole”

Maybe I’m lucky, but I have a hard time seeing how this could cost $20.  That said, it looks delicious as another way to use leeks.  Our daughter LOVES a leek au gratin that we used to get in Pondicherry, India, and every time I make leeks she’s all like “remember that leek dish in Pondy?  I loved that!”  And this was three years ago.  And I make leeks alot,  so it’s not like it’s the only leek dish she’s ever eaten.

One of our dogs loves leeks so much that if we give the other dogs scraps she will reach into their mouths and snatch them out.

Needless to say, leeks go over big in this house. Looking forward to trying this.

I love leek au gratin!  I had it once when I lived in France and, unfortunately, wasn’t paying attention to how it was made; I find white sauces (at least that was what this one was made of) kind of intimidating.  Do you have a recipe for the one you make? 

Also, I did total up the cost based on all the ingredients needed and the leeks I bought were organic :).

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