Our local Publix grocery store holds cooking classes and has been doing so for seven years. They are the only Publix in Georgia that has an Aprons Cooking School; it is comprised of a kitchen/classroom and a dining room. They do both demonstrations and hands-on classes. I finally got off my duff and signed up for a hands-on class on casseroles out of pure curiosity and with the hope of picking up some tips – which I did.
There were only three students in the class, Lori and her mom Joann and yours truly. Chef Nikki did a wonderful job getting everything organized before the class started “mise en place” and she kept us busy through the whole process. Here are the dishes we prepared – all within two hours. When each casserole was done we sat at a table and sampled – with a glass of wine of course. The three of us split the leftovers and took them home.
Root Vegetable Ratatouille with Whipped Feta. We loaded this up with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and sweet potatoes. The underlying sauce was fire roasted tomatoes with chopped beets. What made the dish was the dollop of whipped feta (feta, cream cheese, lemon zest, parsley and thyme) that was added at the table.
Layered Ravioli Casserole with Winter Pesto. We used store bought mushroom stuffed ravioli with spinach and a cream white sauce (Béchamel). The show stopper was the pesto that was layered in the casserole. We made it with spinach, golden raisins soaked in white balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano and almonds. This pesto was delicious.
Gnocchi alla Romana with Hearty Bolognese. After the casserole was done Chef Nikki named this an Italian Shepard’s Pie. The Bolognese was hearty, full of ground beef and ground pork, carrots, celery and cremini mushrooms. The topping was made from semolina cakes (gnocchi) really added to this stick-to-your-ribs dish. I am going to make this again but try using polenta cakes instead of the semolina.
Savory Bread Pudding with Sausage, Kale and Gruyere. The last casserole of the night was a savory bread pudding which would make a great brunch dish. Pork sausage, kale, red onion, fresh sage, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, sugar and gruyere cheese. This is really very nice.
I am happy to send the receipt for any of the above dishes, just email me at email@example.com.