Despite the trend toward lighter eating, there's still room for a rib-sticking casserole in everyone's culinary files. Traditionally, these casseroles are composed of meat with a hearty starch ingredient--potatoes, rice, pasta or stuffing--and a gravy or sauce to bind them together. They're generally inexpensive, filling and satisfying, especially in cooler weather. At my house, the children like them much better than quiches, sandwiches and even ethnic dishes.
In converting several of my favorite casseroles to microwave, I found that not only did I save an impressive amount of cooking time, I saved dish washing. This is especially true when the casserole starts with a sauce or gravy, which cooks in the microwave without scorching on the bottom. Microwave techniques also make it possible to create the entire dish in one pan.
With a scalloped ham and potato casserole, for instance, what is at least a two-pot recipe conventionally (one for the sauce, one for the baking) requires only one pot. When making the sauce, use a wire whisk to break up soft lumps that may form during the rapid microwave boiling.
Leftovers of this casserole stay fresh-tasting in the refrigerator a few days, and individual portions reheat beautifully in about two to three minutes on HIGH. If your family eats at different times during the evening or over several days, having leftovers of this casserole ready to reheat in the microwave can be a lifesaver.