There were two things in the kitchen that scared me when I was a child. One was the crock pot, ever-present and always containing edibles of a questionable color. The second was casserole. I have always turned my nose up at any dish which ends in the word “casserole.” It’s just a word that sounds unpleasant to my pickily critical ears. Maybe it was that any casserole to which I was exposed never failed to contain such horrors (to a french fry-loving eight-year-old) as bell peppers or mushrooms. Or cream of mushroom. Or tuna. Yeah, I was that picky kid. Only recently, at the age of 21, did I touch a raw tomato with something other than a fork held at arm’s length. Fortunately, my tastes have matured, and as of last year, the thought of mushrooms and tomatoes and even casseroles do not frighten me, because I have realized that they can be delicious and not be served by an odd-smelling relative you’ve never seen at a family function you didn’t want to go to. I therefore present to you my very own mushroom and tomato casserole!
Now to preface, I’m a baker mostly, and I really only cook about six dishes at the moment that do not involve icing or copious amounts of sugar. I rely mostly on meals that require assembly only rather than actual cooking, and since Boyfriend is quite talented in the kitchen he keeps me from living off of oatmeal and cookies. This casserole is one of the few things I make that Boyfriend and I both freak out over. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s not as unhealthy as a meal stuffed with, well, stuffing mix, sounds.
Mushroom and Tomato Casserole
2 large cans of diced tomatoes (Italian seasoned ones work well)
1 medium yellow onion
2 big handfuls of baby bella mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
Half a bag of your choice of stuffing mix
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheese of your choice
1 medium-large glass baking/casserole dish, oiled
Preheat the oven to 375°. Chop the onion and saute it over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. When it becomes translucent, add both cans of tomatoes and heat until they simmer, then add your mushrooms. Mix together and add your spices to taste. I gave a rough approximation in the ingredients, because I’m the type who just shakes the container until it feels right. Simmer for about ten minutes or until the mushrooms begin to soften. Now add about half of your stuffing cubes and stir them in. Line the oiled baking dish with stuffing cubes and pour the mixture over them. You should have a nice layer of tomato mushroom goodness that goes nearly to the top of the dish. Now, because I know you want to, cover that baby in cheese. Don’t be shy! Pop it in the oven for about ten minutes or until the cheese is all bubbly and starting to brown at the edges. Serve it up and feel free to add MOAR CHEESE!! Or not.