Summer Fest: 5 Picnic Potluck Ideas

By the time summer rolls around, we’re usually ready to push our casserole pans and dutch ovens into the dusty back corners of our kitchen cabinets. Not so fast — by using fresh summer vegetables, seafood and even berries, you can make lighter one-dish wonders that will feed a crowd without sending them into a full-blown food coma.

1. Tomato Vegetable Casserole (pictured above)
Giada combines ripe tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers with potatoes and yams to form a Parmesan-crusted casserole that boasts enough heft as a vegetarian main, but is still light enough for warm summer nights.

2. Make-Ahead Paella Casserole
This Spanish classic was originally cooked outdoors over wood-burning flames and and we can’t think of a better way to fête summer than with a paella party. Rachael’s version — loaded with chorizo, cod and juicy sweet shrimp — gets a splash of sherry and generous pinch of saffron threads to give the rice subtle richness and body.

3. Summer Squash Casserole
To make these personal veggie bakes, fill mini cast-iron pans with half moons of yellow squash, then top with crushed crackers and butter and roast until bubbling and golden brown.

4. Pesto Lasagne
Instead of the same-old marinara, this recipe from Debi and Gabriele calls for alternating layers of buttery besciamella, or white sauce, and fresh pesto made from basil and pine nuts. The result is a bright and lively lasagna featuring the season’s quintessential herb.

5. Berry Strata
Breathe new life into day-old loaves by turning them into a tender, custard-like bread pudding studded with sweet summer berries. Serve with maple syrup as breakfast or a dollop of whipped cream for dessert.

More casserole ideas from family and friends:

Weelicious: Crock Pot Mexican Tortilla Lasagna
The Heritage Cook: Summer Vegetable Gratin (Gluten-Free)
Taste With The Eyes: Colorful Vegetable Casserole with Fresh Herbs and Cured Black Olives
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Summer Eggplant, Squash and Tomato Casserole
Red or Green: Spicy Cauliflower and Peppers Casserole
Domesticate Me: Caprese Quinoa Bake
Poet in the Pantry: Zucchini and Summer Squash Gratin
The Sensitive Epicure: Zucchini Souffle (Gluten-Free)
Cooking With Elise: Mexican-Style Lasagna
FN Dish: Dig Into Easy Summer Casseroles