There are several things that separate good cooks from mediocre ones. For one thing, good cooks have an appropriate knowledge and use of spices (including salt). Another is that they don’t substitute just any old thing for an ingredient they may not have on hand.
For me, there is another characteristic of a good cook that tips the scale. A good cook is one who can make a tasty dish out of what they have in the kitchen cupboard, pantry, refrigerator or freezer.
The meal we’re having for supper tonight falls into the third category. I put together a casserole with items from all four of the above-mentioned places where food is stored.
From the freezer, I pulled out a ring of sausage. The pantry shelf yielded a quart of homemade sauerkraut and some cream of mushroom soup. In the cupboard, I discovered a package of egg noodles. And in the refrigerator, there was some Swiss cheese, mustard, milk, butter and onion.
Along with some rye that I picked up at the supermarket earlier in the day, those ingredients came together for a casserole, which would great for a potluck and that some might say resembles a Reuben, sans the pastrami or corned beef and Thousand Island dressing.
Sausage Reuben Casserole
1 8-ounce package egg noodles
2 13-ounce cans sauerkraut, drained
2 10¾-ounce cans condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 1/3 cups milk
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1½ pounds Polish sausage or kielbasa, halved and cut into ½-inch slices
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
½ cup soft rye bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Spread sauerkraut in a greased shallow 4-quart baking dish. Top with noodles. In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, onion and mustard; pour over the noodles. Top with sausage; sprinkle with cheese.
Combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over the top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (1 cup): 341 calories, 21 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 72 milligrams cholesterol, 827 milligrams sodium, 22 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 14 grams protein.