Some days you get back from a beautiful walk outdoors and you need a comforting, stick to your ribs kind of lunch (or dinner). And you don’t want it taking hours to prepare. If it uses leftovers, all the better. That’s what today’s recipe is. A simple, reliable, and yummy dish using leftover pork from my September post for Crispy Pork with Char Siu sauce. Yes, I cooked a huge pork shoulder a month ago, and with just two of us, I knew we wouldn’t eat it all. Amazingly, there was just enough to include in today’s recipe for Cheesy Butternut Squash and Pork Noodle Bake! It was amazing!
How long have casserole recipes been around?
As I was building this recipe I did a bit of research on casseroles. They’ve actually been around for thousands of years! I remember when I was little, we’d attend dinners at the local Baptist church. We went to the Catholic church but had friends who didn’t, so I definitely attended the traditional, “everyone-brings-a-covered-dish” type of affair. Everything from Tuna Noodle to a special Green Bean Casserole, made with canned fried onions of all things, to that mom who always tried to be different. She usually brought a salad with nuts in it! For the 60s that was very hip. Back then, bring salad meant one thing: iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Very little else unless you found a brave soul who included red onions (I’d never heard of red onions til one of those dinners), or someone who got fancy and added store-bought croutons.
Community life in the 60s
Life in the 60s, or at least the part we all pretended to live, usually came from a magazine or a tv show. Recipes from Good Housekeeping, Readers’ Digest, or Better Homes and Gardens. All the moms had the latest Corningware (I still have some of it!) If your family’s favorite dish didn’t quite fit that bill, it didn’t get strutted around at a public event. Thus, my mother never brought our favorite meal of boiled chicken hearts with salt, or chicken noodle soup with mashed potatoes added. But according to Wikipedia, true one-dish meals came about in the 50s. They included meat, chopped vegetables, some sort of potato or pasta, and a crunchy or cheesy topping. That’s what today’s recipe is built on. With a few twists and turns that my own mother and those 60s moms would have gone faint over.
Cheesy Butternut Squash and Pork Noodle Bake
- 1 18.5-oz can Progresso butternut squash soup
- 1 egg beaten until golden
- ½ cup low-fat sour cream
- 1/3 cup fat-free half and half
- 2/3 cup whole lingonberry sauce (I mixed this in afterward, but I’d definitely add it before cooking!)
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- ¾ tsp onion powder
- ¾ tsp nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups leftover roasted pork, diced
- 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack and Italian blend)
- 16 oz. cooked pasta (elbows, mostaccioli, bow ties)
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 4 TB softened butter
- ½ cup shredded cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Spray a medium-sized baking pan with cooking spray
- Cook pasta until al dente then drain and rinse in cool water
- In a large bowl, add the first 9 ingredients. Whisk until combined.
- Stir in pork, pasta, and 2 cups of cheese.
- Pour into a greased baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- While the dish is baking, mix together softened butter, bread crumbs, and ½ cup shredded cheese.
- When baked for 30 minutes, remove from oven, remove foil and sprinkle the cheesy breadcrumb mixture overall. Return to oven and bake until the top is golden, and cheese is melted.
- Replace the pork with chopped turkey (great for Thanksgiving leftovers)
- Add 1 cup sliced cooked mushrooms
- Add 1 cup chopped cooked broccoli
- Leave out lingonberry sauce, and serve cranberry sauce on the side
We’ll no doubt be making this dish again real soon, with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. I can’t wait!