The idea of a mini casserole is certainly adorable enough but those of us who don’t live in a dollhouse might not have “six 1-1/2 cup baking dishes.” I know I don’t and, trust me, I’ve got a lot of stuff. Ramekins, yes. Madeleine pan, check. Things I bought here just to say I bought them, you better believe it. I’ve got Pyrex and metal and non-stick. I’ve got clay pots and porcelain and Nordic Ware. But not even one 1-1/2 cup baking dishes. So I made this as one large casserole.
It’s a fine dish but bland. As soon as I finished eating it I was making notes on how to coax some flavor out of it. One thing I’ve learned from Cook’s Illustrated is that a little cayenne pepper — and I mean a very little, like 1/4 of a teaspoon — acts as a flavor booster more than bringing any kind of heat whatsoever. You may also recall that my biggest take-away from Michael Ruhlman was the importance of acid in highlighting and magnifying flavor, so I thought about adding a little bit of lemon juice to the sauce. Why I have to think of all this when I assume Martha has an army of terrified kitchen assistants who should be doing it is a question I can’t answer.
My other recommendation is to not top the dish with the breadcrumbs right away; they will almost surely incinerate. Put them on during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Mini Broccoli and Pasta Casseroles is on page 175 of Meatless and right here courtesy of the Providence Journal.