A casserole dish derives its name from the meal traditionally cooked inside it, also known as a casserole. A casserole typically includes some combination of meat, vegetable, rice or pasta, and creamy liquid. Casserole dishes have other uses besides making casseroles; you can roast vegetables, bake potatoes, and make stuffing in them.
The variety of colours, shapes, and materials used for casserole dishes may be the widest assortment of any type of cookware. Some casseroles cleverly incorporate a certain type of animal in the shape of their lid, and others decorate the base with patterns and designs. The basic premise of all casserole dishes, however, is an oval shaped, deep dish with straight sides, two handles, and a tight-fitting lid. Most casserole dishes are both heat-proof and attractive enough to go straight from your oven to the table. This is the very convenient, because casseroles are hard to cut and serve aesthetically in way other than straight from the dish.
Casserole dishes can be found in a variety of materials, including ceramic, glass, metal, stoneware, and any other heat-proof material. Glass may not be the best heat conductor, but it does prevent the edges of your casserole from burning. Glass is also dishwasher safe, which saves a lot of time scrubbing off little bits of food that have stuck to the pan. Glass has an additional benefit in that you can see the cooking progress of the bottom layers of your casserole, which you cannot do with any other casserole dish material. Ceramic styles are non-porous, meaning they resist absorbing moisture, odours and tastes. Check the bottom of ceramic dishes as it should state whether or not they are dishwasher and microwave safe. Glass and ceramic are both very strong and durable materials. Equally as durable is cast iron, which can be found with or without an enamel coating. Both are excellent conductors of heat, but the enamelled versions may look prettier on your table, as they come in a wide range of colours.
Casserole dishes come in various sizes determined by the amount of liquid they can hold. Because you will most likely use your casserole dish pretty frequently, it is worth investing in two or more different sizes.
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