Winter months just absolutely cry out for casseroles. I never really quite take the time to bulk-make and freeze for those rainy days in advance but 2018 I decided to use my freezer smarter. I always have questions about the process like: can I freeze a baked casserole? Can it go straight from the freezer to the oven? How can I avoid freezer burn? Let me answer a few of those questions and give you some tips, as well as this fabulous rigatoni or paccheri casserole recipe, not suitable for freezing but too delish not to share.
And I am very proud to be Colruyt Ambassador for these next few months.
WHAT INGREDIENTS CAN I FREEZE AND NOT? – do not freeze fresh vegetables with high water content like lettuce and cucumber. soft cheeses with a high water content like ricotta, nor food emulsions like mayonnaise, sour cream and yogurt.
BAKE BEFORE FREEZE OR NOT ? – the choice is yours if you wish to pre-bake and than freeze or just freeze and than bake. General rule is better off to freeze first when ingredients are already cooked. If it has liquid ingredients, you can bake it first and freeze. If uncooked meat or fish has been already been frozen and thawed you need to bake before freezing. Do not freeze pastry, just add it when reheating.I prefer to freeze and than bake personally.
HOW TO FREEZE A CASSEROLE? – Best not to freeze your casserole in the pan as it might get stuck to the freezer and you have to bake the entire dish. Always line your casserole with foil and than a layer of plastic wrap first for easy wrapping and extraction. You can flash freeze your casserole in the pan and than divide in portions. Transfer to individual freezer-to-oven dishes, don’t forget to label and date. Avoid freezer burn by wrapping tightly in plastic. Freeze up to 3 months.
HOW TO BAKE A FROZEN CASSEROLE? – You can put a pasta casserole direct from freezer to oven. However vegetables and meat casseroles may not look that great when reheated direct from the freezer, thawing it at room temperature first might be advisable. Add 30 minutes to normal cooking time when baking direct from freezer to oven, check every 15 minutes in pre-heated oven at 180 C degrees until it reaches an inner temperature of 70C degrees. For thawed casseroles add 10 minutes cooking time until it reaches an inner temperature of 70C degrees.
My rigatoni casserole
Yield 4 portions
(unsuitable to freeze)
- 500 gr rigatoni ( ribbed cylinder shape pasta) you can also use paccheri, larger tubes 250gr
- 450 gr frozen spinach, thawed
- 450 gr ricotta cheese
- 50 gr Parmesan, grated
- 170 gr provolone cheese, grated
- vegetable or olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Cook the rigatoni in large pot with boiling, salted water until almost done, check packet for instructions. Drain and sprinkle oil the pasta as not to stick to each other. Oil the baking dish.
- Squeeze as much as possible water from the frozen now thawed spinach. Add spinach to food processor with the ricotta, half of the grated Parmesan and blend well. Stir in half of the provolone cheese and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Pipe the mixture into the rigatoni, fill each about 3/4 and place vertically in the oiled roundb aking dish (mine was 20 cm diameter). Top with the remaining grated Parmesan and provolone. Bake in pre-heated oven at 220 C degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown on top.
recipe on www.leeksandhighheels.com by Sandra Slawinski
Purchasing ingredients at Colruyt comes to total of 10,66 euro feeding 4.