A Cheesy, Baked Potato Casserole Recipe for Relaxed Family Dinners

Sunday Dinner

The Easy, Cheesy Casserole That’s Always on My Sunday Dinner Table

And why I'll never get tired of making it.

October 21, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin. This prosciutto cotto, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and Pecorino Romano-stuffed potato casserole comes together easily with some help from Lagostina.

We're partnering with Lagostina to celebrate the Italian Sunday dinner with stories, recipes, and videos about this special family tradition. Here, Tuscan food writer and photographer Giulia Scarpaleggia shares her mom's potato gateau recipe, a Sunday dinner favorite.

Try as I might, Sunday afternoons are often the only moment when I can enjoy a walk along my favorite country road, under the enormous Tuscan oak trees I’ve known since I was a child. I relish these moments—a brisk walk in the crisp fall air always leaves me with reddened cheeks and a good appetite—but I love lazy Sunday afternoons indoors, too. I could spend hours on the sofa dreaming over a new cookbook, adding bookmarks to every recipe I want to try, or watching the last episode of my favorite TV series. For as much as I enjoy cooking and having friends over for dinner, Sunday afternoons are not meant for spending hours in the kitchen in between dirty pots and pans—they're meant for relaxing.

That’s why, when hosting on Sundays especially, I always make sure to choose recipes that can be prepared in advance; I can still spend my afternoon unwinding, waiting for my friends while lost in a book in the living room, or enjoying the changing seasons outside. When they arrive, they’ll find a more relaxed host and the food ready to be reheated in a sparkling-clean kitchen.

My picks for making that happen? A simple, seasonal soup followed by the potato gateau that has been a Sunday night staple since I was a child. I'll never get tired of the dish because it's as easy to make ahead of time as it is delicious—and believe it or not, the flavor actually improves during the wait.

The potato gateau is my mom’s recipe. When it comes to Sunday dinner, she has always been very predictable: In the summer Sunday dinner was tuna loaf, but as soon as the weather cooled down, she would light up the fireplace in the living room and make the potato gateau instead. (It was there to stay for a few months.)

Now that I'm serving it to my own family, I usually follow a few rules to pull it all together:

  • Bake the potato gateau in the morning while you’re making the soup. The flavor will improve after a few hours and it will be easier to cut it into neat squares. (Personally, I prefer to serve it warm rather than piping hot.)
  • You can switch up the filling of your potato gateau according to your preferences. Mozzarella and prosciutto cotto (slowly cooked ham cut into thin slices) is a winning combo for all ages, while gorgonzola is more suitable to grown ups.
  • In the fall, the soup I turn to is butternut squash and chickpea. To get ahead, you can soak and cook the chickpeas the day before and keep them in the fridge until you're ready to make it. If you do not have time, or if you happen to improvise the dinner at the last moment, good quality canned chickpeas work just fine.
  • Consider the soup a blank canvas: Serve it plain for a simple, comforting option; spice it up with a generous pinch of nutmeg to warm up a cold night; or add grated orange zest for a fresh and citrusy addition.
  • I like to round things out with a simple, sweet note. Usually, that means turning some seasonal fruit into a dessert. (Do not underestimate the comfort of stewed fruit, especially on a cold night.) Baked apples with raisins, almonds, honey and Marsala wine is one of my favorites; it's simple and has an unmistakable Italian accent.
  • Pro tip: Keep a tub of good vanilla gelato in your freezer and serve alongside the baked apples to bring the dessert to a whole new level.

More Sunday Dinner Ideas

In partnership with Lagostina, the premium Italian cookware brand that values high-quality materials and time-honored craftsmanship, we're highlighting the #LagostinaSundayDinner with a new series all about the Italian tradition. Every Sunday, we'll share go-to Sunday recipes from some of our favorite chefs and cookbook authors.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Giulia was born in a farmhouse in the countryside near Siena, the same place that she calls home now, a peaceful corner in the hills of Tuscany, where Giulia’s family has been living since the 1920s. Giulia, a food writer and food photographer, loves honest simple food: seasonal products, family recipes, memories and stories. She started her blog in 2009. Tommaso, her husband now and the head tester, joined Giulia, embracing her life project, contributing to Juls’ Kitchen with his passion for Social Media, photography and video making. You can find them on line, or teaching Tuscan cooking classes in their cooking studio, shopping at the market or picking the seasonal produce directly from their vegetable garden to cook up a storm for family and friends. 

1 Comment

dinaofdoom October 26, 2018
Any thoughts on a bleu cheese sub? I'm allergic, and miss that salty-tangy-piquant flavor.