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Hearty Fall Casseroles

Scrumptious Choices for Family Dinners

Wild Mushroom and Polenta Lasagna

Generously butter 13x 9 glass baking dish. Slice 1 lb of prepared polenta into ½-in. Rounds. You can buy this in tube packages. Layer the bottom of the baking pan with polenta rounds. For mushroom ragout: Melt 2 Tbsp butter with 2 Tbsp olive oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1½ lbs sliced assorted mushrooms and sauté until tender and browned and most of the liquid has been released, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add ¼ cup finely diced shallots and about 6 chopped sage leaves; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. Add 1½ Tbsp flour and stir until it is no longer visible. Add 1 cup milk and 2 Tbsp fresh parsley and cook until the sauce is thick, about 5 minutes. Season mushroom ragout to taste with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon half of the warm mushroom ragout over the polenta; sprinkle with ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Slice another pound of polenta and place over the cheese and top with remaining ragout. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Increase the heat to 400°F, remove foil and top with ¾ cup Parmesan cheese. Bake until cheese is bubbly and golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot out of the oven. Serves 6 to 8.

White Bean and Sausage Gratin
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8×10 baking dish with olive oil. In a large skillet, over medium heat, crumble 4 sweet Italian sausages (can use turkey sausages), casings removed, into the pan and cook until golden while breaking up. Remove from skillet. In the same pan, add 1 chopped small fennel bulb and 1 chopped small onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add 5 minced garlic cloves and 2 Tbsp chopped sage. Stir well and cook for one minute. Add 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed, to the pan until slightly wilted. Stir in ½ cup chicken broth, two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (drained) and sausage crumbles. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. In a small bowl combine ½ cup plain bread crumbs, 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano and thyme and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Spinach and Black Bean Pie
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 10-in round cake pan or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 chopped medium onion, 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp dried oregano. Cook until onion has softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 can of black beans (rinsed) and stir. Mash slightly. Add 1½ cups corn kernels and 10 oz baby spinach, roughly chopped. Cook until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and add ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro. Place one tortilla in the pan and spoon 1/3 of the bean mixture on top, spreading evenly. Top with ½ cup Mexican cheese blend. Repeat with two more layers. Top with last tortilla (4 total) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the tortilla onto another prepared pan. Top with ½ cup of the cheese and bake until the cheese melts. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Serves 4 to 6.

Christine Wansleben, chef and owner of Mise En Place Cooking School, lives in the West End, where she cooks up a storm with her husband and their twins.
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