cover image The Big Book of Casseroles: 250 Recipes for Serious Comfort Food

The Big Book of Casseroles: 250 Recipes for Serious Comfort Food

Maryana Vollstedt. Chronicle Books, $19.95 (310pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-2260-2

Vollstedt's (What's for Dinner?) reliable collection of robust food encompasses many ethnicities (Seafood Lasagna, Baked Tandoori Chicken on Lentils, Spicy Beef Enchilada Casserole). Recipes are clearly written and carefully worded, and chapters are divided easily by ingredients (seafood, poultry, etc.). Many dishes rely heavily on cheese and other dairy products (California Casserole uses 2 cups of sour cream and 4 cups of Monterey Jack; Italian Potato Casserole incorporates 2 cups of mozzarella and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan), but Vollstedt compensates with a chapter on low-fat casseroles that includes Spinach, Parmesan Cheese, and Rotini with Pine Nuts, Brown Rice and Broccoli, and Greek Meatballs in Tomato-Yogurt-Mint Sauce made with ground lamb. Vollstedt stretches the definition of casserole to incorporate Tangy Baked Shrimp, Turkey Loaf and Baked Sweet Potatoes (the latter two are cooked separately but served together) and a whole chapter of gratin recipes. An introduction with instructions for making the basic components, freezing casseroles at different stages and reducing fat and calories rounds out this solid effort. (Jan.)