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‘Tis the Season for Umami-Rich, Comforting Casseroles

Comforting Umami Casseroles

Whether you love them or hate them, casseroles have been a staple at family meals for a very long time. According to Wikipedia, casseroles originally were characterized as being a combination of meat or fish,various chopped vegetables, a starchy binder such as flour, rice, potato or pasta, and often a crunchy or cheesy topping. Casseroles are usually cooked slowly in the oven, often uncovered. They may be served as a main course or a side dish, and may be served in the container in which they were cooked.”

If I had to make an educated culinary guess, I would say the most popular casserole recipes include ingredients that provide umami flavor (e.g., meats, cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms, seasonings). The Taylors are mostly fans of savory casseroles, a few of which are prepared only for special occasions. I cannot recall a Christmas dinner when we did not have my grandmother’s cabbage casserole — I can smell it baking right now. Never fans of sweet potato casseroles, we preferred this cabbage dish made with lots of butter and cheese. Comfort food at its simplest.

There probably are as many ‘favorite’ casserole recipes as there are stars in the sky. Some are quick and easy (e.g., the ubiquitous green bean casserole) while others are a bit more complex; a few are definitely on the sweet side (e.g., those darned sweet potatoes with a gooey marshmallow topping) but many more offer up a blend of savory flavors. Being that I prefer savory, here are a few out-of-the ordinary casserole recipes. Do these whet your appetite?

  • Hot Overnight Chicken Casserole
  • Spicy Cajun Cabbage Casserole
  • Caramelized Vegetable Casserole
  • Swiss Chicken Casserole
  • Spaghetti Squash and Roasted Mushroom Casserole
  • Beefy Chili Biscuit Casserole

Whether eaten piping hot out of the oven or as left-overs, these casseroles might just become your family’s favorite winter casserole. We hope you enjoy.

Hot Overnight Chicken Casserole

This recipe is a keeper. You can use leftover turkey in place of chicken if desired.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 4 cups cooked and cubed chicken or cooked turkey
  • 4 hardboiled eggs sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 cups ripe olives sliced
  • 2 cups celery diced or chopped fine
  • 1 cups cream of mushroom or chicken soup undiluted
  • 3/4 to 1 cups mayonnaise dressing
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Ac'cent (MSG)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. minced onion
  • 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded or grated
  • 1 1/2 cup crushed potato chips or French-fried onion rings
  • 2/3 cup almonds chopped


  1. Place chicken in a 9x13-inch baking dish coated with a non-stick spray; distribute eggs over chicken pieces.
  2. Combine celery and olives and spread evenly over chicken/eggs.
  3. Combine soup, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, MSG, onion and lemon juice; pour over casserole.
  4. Top with potato chips and cheese and then almonds.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Source: Just a Pinch Blog

Recipe photo courtesy of Flickr user: David Kessler


Spicy Cajun Cabbage Casserole

Not baked like a traditional casserole, this stove-top dish is a departure from the Taylor clan's cabbage casserole but the ingredients tell me it is just as yummy.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 10 slices bacon
  • 1 bunch green onions chopped
  • 1 large head of cabbage chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Ac'cent seasoning (MSG)
  • 1 tsp. whole celery seed
  • 1 tsp. creole seasoning can be adjusted for spice level
  • 1 tsp. black pepper can be adjusted for spice level


  1. Cook bacon and let cool before crumbling into small pieces.
  2. Sauté the chopped green onions in saved bacon grease for 4 minutes.
  3. Add cabbage and water, cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Mix all spices in a small bowl.
  5. Add spice mixture to cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes or until desired doneness.
  6. Crumble bacon on top before serving.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Source: Just a Pinch Blog

Recipe photo courtesy of Flickr user: Jane Charlesworth

Caramelized Vegetable Casserole

The creator of this recipe is very knowledgeable about umami and the ingredients that pack an umami punch. See end note. 

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 3 ½ pounds butternut squash cut into 1” cubes
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 fresh tomatoes quartered
  • 2 medium red onions cut into wedges
  • 3 Portobello mushrooms cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves peeled
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme minced
  • 1 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast the peppers, let cool, peel, seed and cut into 1” pieces.
  2. While peppers are roasting, poach the garlic cloves in 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Keep it at a slow simmer until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool, mash with a fork and set aside.
  3. In separate bowls, toss the squash, onion, mushrooms and tomatoes using the olive oil from the garlic poaching.
  4. In a large cast iron or non-stick skillet, grill the squash until it starts to caramelize. Then separately grill the onion, the mushrooms and finally the tomato.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together all the remaining ingredients except for the cheese. Transfer the mixture to 2 - 2 ½ quart gratin dish or baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan. Bake until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Source: Cooking Contest Central Blog

Recipe photo courtesy of: Migle


Swiss Chicken Casserole

Simple to make, this savory dish is a true crowd pleaser.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 4 chicken breasts boneless and skinless
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cans 10.5 oz cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Ac'cent MSG
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 box chicken stuffing mix


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash chicken and pat dry; place chicken in large baking dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. In medium bowl whisk together the milk, soup and MSG. Set aside.
  4. Make stuffing according to package directions, set aside.
  5. Evenly place Swiss cheese slices over chicken; pour half soup mixture over all chicken.
  6. Spread stuffing over that, then top with remaining soup mixture.
  7. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Recipe Notes

Recipe photo courtesy of: Just a Pinch Blog



Spaghetti Squash and Roasted Mushroom Casserole

This casserole has all the umami deliciousness of a great spaghetti dish, but without the heavy pasta.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 onions
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash spaghetti squash, prick a few times with a knife and wrap in foil. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until shell softens.
  2. Slice onions and place into a medium baking pan. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Place in oven with squash and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms for last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  3. Slice squash in half and remove seeds from center. Scrape squash into a bowl.
  4. Add roasted mushrooms and onions, seasoning and coconut milk. Beat eggs and add to squash mixture.
  5. Spray a casserole dish and pour in squash mixture. Top with cheddar cheese if desired.

  6. Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 35 minutes, or until casserole is set.

Recipe Notes

Source: From the Grapevine Blog

Recipe photo courtesy of Flickr user: The Meanest Momma


Beefy Chili Biscuit Casserole

Add some savory pizzazz to the menu by surprising your friends or family with this spicy casserole.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4


  • 1-1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tsp. garlic and herb seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp. basil dried
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ac'cent (MSG)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder or more for your taste
  • 1 can tomatoes Italian style with oregano & basil
  • 1 bag ready rice long grain & wild
  • 1 can cream of tomato soup
  • 1 can chili with beans
  • 1 cup canned corn without liquid
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 8-oz bag shredded Colby & Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits unbaked


  1. In a large fry pan, brown ground beef with seasonings; drain.
  2. Stir in canned tomatoes (liquid included), chili, tomato soup, corn, rice (straight from package), ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil for about 1 minute.
  4. Spread this beef mixture into an 8x10 greased casserole dish
  5. Sprinkle Colby and Monterrey jack cheese all over top
  6. Pop open the biscuits and place them evenly over cheese.
  7. Sprinkle sharp cheddar cheese on top of biscuits.
  8. Bake in preheated oven of 350 degrees for approx. 20 minutes or until biscuits on top are golden brown.

Recipe Notes

Source: Just a Pinch Blog

Recipe photo courtesy of Flickr user: Jeffrey W.


About Kaye Taylor, MS

Kaye is an author and consulting nutritionist with more than 15 years’ experience representing clients in the food industry, providing strategic leadership and consulting on meal planning, recipe development, consumer-focused educational materials relating to food and nutrition, science-based communications, and media relations. Read more about her background on the About page.

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