In light of recent events, discussions, and protests regarding the injustices experienced by many Americans that have been going on both here at Vassar and all over the country, I would like to propose three comforting dishes that are made to be shared. What better time than the present for friends to come together? And what better way to bring people together than food? During these stressful times, it can be beneficial to gather together to discuss, share, and learn from one another. And who would say no to doing that with good food?
Below are three delicious and easy potluck style dishes. The first is a recipe for baked mac n’ cheese from Campbellskitchen.com. The secret to its simplicity is that it requires a simple can of Cheddar Cheese soup for the sauce. The second dish is a midwestern favorite called Baked Chop Suey. This particular version comes from the recipe box at the family camp association, Camp Charles Allis of East Troy, Wisconsin, which my family has been belonged to for generations. I’m not sure where the name came from, because there’s nothing to make it a very Asian-inspired dish, apart from the soy sauce. The third dish is a favorite in my TA, Eggplant parm. It’s an old Italian-American classic comfort dish, that (if you bake instead of fry the eggplant) is surprisingly light. And it’s vegetarian! The recipe I chose was adapted from a version found on wholefoodsmarket.com.
Campbell’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese:
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups rotini (spiral) pasta or medium shell pasta (about 1/3 of a 1-pound package), cooked and drained
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons butter, melted
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir the soup, milk, pepper, and pasta into a casserole dish. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs and butter together. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the pasta mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Baked Chop Suey
(A Wisconsin favorite!)
1 lb. of ground hamburger meat
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cup of chopped celery
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1½ cups warm water
½ cup white rice, uncooked
¼ cup soy sauce
Brown the meat and then combine with the rest of the ingredients in a casserole dish. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with Chinese noodles (the crunchy kind, you can usually find them near the soy sauces in the international foods aisle at the grocery store) and bake for 15 more min.
Baked Eggplant Parm
Slice 1 large eggplant into ½ inch thick rounds. Place two beaten eggs and 1 ½ cups of bread crumbs in two separate bowls. Coat slices of eggplant with egg mixture and then breadcrumbs. Place the slices on an oiled baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 375 for 15 min. and then flip over and bake for another 10 min.
Increase oven temp to 425 degrees. In a casserole dish, arrange eggplant slices on top of a bottom layer of tomato sauce, cover with cheese mixture of (1 cup shredded mozzarella and parmesan). Repeat the process and finish with cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and small golden spots start to form, about 15 min.