In honor of this weekend's Church Basement Ladies: Away in the Basement show at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, today's blog is going to be about hotdishes. I could have titled this article "you say hotdish, I say casserole" but then we'd have to call the whole thing off.
So, what make's a hotdish a hotdish? There are certain ingredients that MUST be included, in my opinion, to classify a dish as a hotdish. First, some sort of starch. Generally noodles of some fashion. Maybe elbow macaroni or rotini. The elbows are fun because the sauce, whether it be cheesey or creamy, gets sucked into the little caverns and when you bite into a mouthful it all comes splushing out. Or the rotinis are good, because the saucy sauce sticks to the curly form and swirls its yummy goodness on the noodles and not in a pool on your plate. One could also use potatoes or hashbrowns as a starch. For instance...Tator Tot HotDish? need I say more...my all-time favorite.
Which brings me to ingredient number 2, to qualify a dish as a hotdish. Some kind of sauce MUST be involved. Old standards are cream of mushroom soup, or if you don't have that on hand (and I don't think this happens very often in MN households) you might have to use cream of celery or cream of chicken. I personally don't think switching them up sometimes is a bad idea. The sauce can also consist of various cheeses, too. Velveeta, swiss, cheddar...dairy products in general that melt well. Even cream cheese and sour cream can be thrown into this mix.
The next MUST HAVE is a protein. Let's face it, canned tuna, cooked chicken or the old stand buy of ground beef are ALL fabulous nuggets for the MEAT portion of this meal. I like to use ground turkey, but SHUSH...don't tell anyone, they'll never know!
Lastley, and this is up for debate by some folks, is a vegetable. I like to toss my veggies right into the dish, to get that extra "it's good for you" feeling. Chopped broccoli, peas or corn are all pantry or freezer staples that wind up in hotdishes across the land.
So, this all being said, I had a discussion not long ago with a co-worker who HATES hotdishes....WHAT???HOW CAN THAT BE? I then said to her...do you like Lasagna? YES, OH YES she said, I'm part Italian.
My reply? Well isn't Lasagna a Hotdish? It's got noodles, (check) it's got sauce (albeit red, but still a sauce) it's got meat, (check) and it's got tomatoes or if you are fancy even green peppers.
IT IS A HOTDISH!
Check out our facebook page this week for HotDish ideas or feel free to share your own. Facebook/BurnsvillePerformingArtsCenter