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a casserole

We’ve all experienced challenges — and if we’re lucky, those times have come with an influx of support from friends and family. There are many ways to show up for someone in need, but one universally heartwarming gesture is a nourishing, home-cooked meal.

In the midst of a setback or a difficult transition, cooking yourself a meal can feel like an out-of-reach luxury. That’s where these recipes come in handy. Each dish is packed with wholesome ingredients and cozy flavors. Once cooked and assembled, they’re ready for delivery — and once delivered, they can be popped in the oven and reheated easily.

These recipes are for your neighbor who recently lost someone, your coworker who just had a baby, or your friend who’s had their heart broken. Show your loved ones that they can lean on you with one of these thoughtful meals.

Meal-Delivery Best Practices

  • Coordinate a date and time with the recipient, so you can be sure you’re addressing the person’s need on their terms. If there’s a larger support effort (like a Meal Train), sign up for a date through that platform so your friend isn’t overwhelmed.
  • Be prepared to leave shortly after delivery. Depending on the circumstances, your friend may not be up for entertaining.
  • Deliver in a recyclable or reusable container, if possible. If you’re using a glass or ceramic baking dish, let your friend know that you’ll retrieve it at a later date.
  • Write clear instructions for reheating on a note card to be included with the meal. Consider adding that there’s no need to send a thank-you note — relieving that pressure can also be a gift.

Spicy Chicken Meatballs With Coconut Pineapple Rice

a dish of spicy chicken meatballs

Makes six servings | Prep time 20 minutes | Cook time 60 minutes

Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 1 14.5-oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple, fresh or canned

Chicken Meatballs

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 large jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 tbs. apple-cider vinegar
  • Cilantro and green onion, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the ingredients for the rice in a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meatball ingredients (except the oil) and mix until just combined. Use your hands to form the mixture into 16 equal-size balls.
  3. Preheat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, then add the oil. Sear the meatballs for about two to three minutes per side, or until deeply browned and cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Place the glaze ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. When the rice has baked for about 45 minutes, remove it from the oven. Top rice mixture with the meatballs and drizzle the glaze over the top. Cover, and continue to cook for the remaining minutes, until the rice is tender.

Deliver with the following instructions:

Enjoy within five days, or freeze for up to a month. Allow the dish to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cover the dish in foil and bake until heated through: 30 to 35 minutes (from the refrigerator) or 60 to 70 minutes (from frozen, removing foil halfway through baking time). Top the reheated casserole with cilantro and green onions, and serve hot.

White-Bean Vegetable Soup

bowls of white bean vegetable soup

Makes six servings | Prep time 10 minutes | Cook time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tbs. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. red-pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 28-oz. cans plum tomatoes
  • 2 15-oz. cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped Tuscan kale

Directions

  1. Preheat a large stockpot to medium heat, then add oil. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent, about five to seven minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  2. Add tomato paste, basil, oregano, red-pepper flakes, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste has darkened in color, about one to two minutes. Add wine, and allow to simmer until halved in volume, about three to four minutes.
  3. Add canned tomatoes and crush with a wooden spoon. Stir in beans, zucchini, and kale. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until zucchini is tender but not mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add more salt to taste, let cool, then transfer to an airtight container for delivery.

Deliver with the following instruc­tions:

Enjoy within five days. Add soup to a large stockpot, cover, and heat on the stove over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. To reheat from frozen, thaw soup in the refrigerator, then place in a large stockpot. Heat on the stove over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Polenta Pistachio Pesto Casserole

a tin casserole of polenta pistachio casserole

Makes five servings | Prep time 35 minutes

Pesto

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup packed basil, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shelled roasted pistachios, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Casserole

  • 2 tbs. avocado oil or other neutral oil
  • 18-oz. tube polenta, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick disks
  • 1/2 medium shallot, diced
  • 3 cups finely chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shelled roasted pistachios, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Place the pesto ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Preheat a large skillet to medium heat and add the oil. Working in batches, fry the polenta disks for one to two minutes per side, or until softened and lightly crispy.
  3. Assemble the casserole in an 8-x-8-inch baking dish. Place a layer of shallots over the bottom of the baking dish, followed by a layer of broccoli; cover broccoli with dollops of pesto. Add a second layer of the veggies and pesto, then top with a layer of polenta disks. If there is any leftover pesto, broccoli, or shallots at the end, distribute over the top of the dish. Garnish with cheese and pistachios. (Note: Slice the polenta slightly thinner to create two layers; simply layer veggies, pesto, and polenta, and repeat.)

Deliver with the following instructions:

Enjoy within five days, or freeze for up to a month. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake the dish until the broccoli is tender and the polenta has browned, crispy edges: 45 to 50 minutes (uncovered, from the refrigerator) or 65 to 75 minutes (from frozen, covered in foil and removing foil halfway through baking time).

Cauliflower Steak and Farro Casserole

a casserole of cauliflower steak and farro

Makes six servings | Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time 60 minutes

Cauliflower Steak

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme

Squash

  • 1 medium honeynut or 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Farro

  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. dried rosemary
  • 2 1/2 cups farro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

Garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the cauliflower from head to stem into slabs 1½–2 inches thick, leaving the stem and outer leaves intact. Place the cauliflower on the sheet pan.
  2. Whisk the olive oil, Dijon mustard, sea salt, garlic powder, oregano, and thyme until combined. Brush the cauliflower steaks with the seasoning and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cauliflower is deeply roasted on the outside and tender on the inside.
  3. Lightly toss squash in olive oil and salt. Add to a second baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until tender and lightly golden, flipping halfway through.
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the farro. Preheat a large skillet to medium heat, then add oil. Add the shallot and cook until translucent and tender, about three to four minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until aromatic, about one minute. Add the farro and stir to coat it in the oil and aromatics. Add the vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the farro is tender and the moisture has been absorbed.
  5. Transfer squash and farro to a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Top with the cauliflower steaks and cover.

Deliver with the following instructions:

Enjoy within five days. Allow the dish to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cover the dish in foil and bake until heated through: 30 to 35 minutes (from the refrigerator), or 60 to 70 minutes (from frozen, removing foil halfway through baking time). Top the reheated casserole with toasted walnuts or pecans, and serve hot.

This article originally appeared as “Caring Fare” in the November 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: Andrea D’Agosto; Prop Styling: Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Paul Jackman
Maddie
Maddie Augustin

Maddie Augustin is a Minneapolis-based recipe developer.

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