Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Nostalgic Casserole for Easter Dinner

Jan here, filling in for Cate today with a not-so-healthy dish.

Because once in a while, you need to feed the soul with comfort food. 
Easter is one of those times.

We're talking about Easters past today. 
Long past? 
No. My past.

In those days, Easter meant a new Easter dress, new Easter gloves, and a new Easter hat. Super stylish!

When I was growing up, Easter dinner was always celebrated at home after church. Somehow, Mom was able to put together a big dinner on that Sunday. She was a preacher's wife, played piano, and generally kept life on a even keel on Sunday mornings, but we still had a big dinner after church.

Of course, my brother and I were no help.

Except that we always, always insisted on Cream of Asparagus Casserole for Easter dinner.

Once I grew up and tried making it myself, I was sorry that I had been so insistent as a kid. But Mom always came through. Cream of Asparagus Casserole was as much an Easter tradition as coloring eggs and a ham in the oven.

So here's the recipe for that classic dish, with apologies to those who didn't grow up on food from the 1950's. :-)

Classic Cream of Asparagus Casserole


3 cups canned (and drained) or fresh asparagus (if you use fresh, cut it into 1"-2" pieces and cook)
4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 cup dried bread cubes, small size - seasoned are best
1 can cream of asparagus soup (or you can substitute cream of mushroom soup, or use a seasoned white sauce)

Prepare a 6 to 8 cup casserole dish by greasing it well with butter or cooking spray. (Mom used margarine, of course.)

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients together, reserving some of the dried bread cubes. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, top with the reserved bread cubes, and bake in a 325° oven for 40-45 minutes.

Or you can put it in the oven with the Easter ham while you're at church. 

Okay, you might be wondering why canned asparagus is one of the items on the list. After all, that can be pretty nasty stuff, and fresh or frozen asparagus is available year around, right?

Remember that this was a long, long time ago. (Don't count the years - I'd rather be under the delusion that it wasn't really that long ago.)

Back then, you ate fresh vegetables when they were in season. You bought as many as you could handle before they spoiled, then froze or canned them. And you hoped you had enough to last until the next season.

There was an asparagus farm just about forty miles from our house, and we went there every May to stock up. We'd buy a "lug" - about twenty pounds - and take it home to freeze. That chore was usually done late at night. Cut the asparagus spears into pieces, blanch them, pack them in freezer containers, and take them across the yard to the freezer we kept in the garage.

But our family loved asparagus, and those freezer containers were usually empty by January. So this casserole was made with canned asparagus.

I'm not sure why, but my brother and I could never get enough of this casserole. Was it the asparagus? Or the creamed soup? I don't think it was the bread cubes...although I tried making this dish without them one time and it just wasn't right. 
In fact, every time I try to make this, it isn't quite right.

I think it's missing the Mom Touch. I know I am. 

Mom. November 9, 1929-March 30, 2014

Have a great Easter, everyone! And tell us: What is your favorite childhood Easter memory?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. What a sweet memory, Jan. Isn't it amazing how certain foods can hold such fond memories for us? I guess that's why we call things comfort food.

    Honestly, I've never heard of Cream of Asparagus Casserole, however, I do remember canned asparagus. And I'm not talking about the kind your mother canned. I mean the kind you can still buy at the store. And for some odd reason, despite it's either mushy, slimy or bamboo-like texture, I loved it. Then again, I didn't know any better. Now I do. And I still love asparagus, just the fresh variety. I might have to check this recipe out.

    Oh, and I remember the Easter dresses. There was always a quest to find the perfect dress. Of course, growing up in Michigan, that could be a challenge. Easter dresses were so springy. Short sleeves or no sleeves at all and yet there was often still snow on the ground. Who wants to wear sandals and a short sleeve dress in the snow. And even when you did opt for the short sleeve dress, it always seemed like such a shame to have to cover it up with a heavy winter coat. So then you were left with a choice--freeze and let everyone see your dress or cover up and stay warm.

    Ah, the memories.

    1. My dream Easter dress for my daughter when she was little was one with a matching coat...but we lived in Texas during those years. Who needed a coat at Easter?

      I also remember those Easters growing up in Michigan. Shivering. Icy cold fingers, even with gloves on. And bare legs! (Because I never even wore knee socks - always "anklets.") Oh, those were the days!

  2. I love the purse casually draped over your arm in that second picture! No Easter outfit is complete without a coordinating purse! :-)

    And I just have to say that the asparagus casserole sounds....there are no words except I can't understand kids clamoring for it!!!!!

    Easter meant bare pavement at last and that meant we always got skipping ropes and bouncy balls in our Easter basket. I still feel the yearn to skip when the sun gets warmer and the ice and snow melt off the pavements. Alas, my skipping days are over but we couldn't wait to get home from church and start skipping! A street full of little girls only 2 boys on Wadsworth Blvd) and nobody dared tried driving down the street Easter Sunday for all of us out there skipping our little feet off.

    1. What a great memory!

      The big spring toy for our children was sidewalk chalk. When we lived in Indiana we had a paved driveway and sidewalk. Many hopscotch boards were drawn in the spring!

      For several years, my favorite spring toy was a kite. Every evening I'd be out flying my kite...of course, Mary Poppins had just been released, and I'd sing while the kite flew! :-)

    2. Jan, I always got a kite, too. No Mary Poppins for me, though. I just wanted to get my kite higher than any of the other kites. Which inevitably meant I'd run out of string and, alas, my kite would bid me farewell.

    3. Kav, right??? What kids clamor for hard boiled eggs and creamy asparagus?????

      This could possibly explain so much!!!! ;)

  3. Oh, I love this so much! What a wonderful memory and how funny that the casserole meant so much to kids! I'm gobsmacked by that, Jan!!! But what a precious look back at a beautiful time, my friend.

    1. It was fun looking back to those times. I know life wasn't easy for my parents - pastors don't go into that line of work for the money - but they still made it wonderful for us. I had a blessed childhood. :-)

      And that casserole! I never try to make it now because hubby shudders every time I mention it. He hates both asparagus and boiled eggs. Combine the two? Forget it!

      But the memory of it is good enough.

  4. We always had this as well! My dad would make it. It was his favorite casserole and was one of his specialities that my mom never made. :)

    I never had fresh asparagus until I was an adult. We always had the store bought cans, and I loved it! We made the casserole with cream of mushroom soup and crumbled Ritz cracker topping. :)

    1. Also meant to say how much I enjoyed the photos! I have similar ones. My mom always sewed us new dresses. And we would buy new white patent leather shoes and purses as well as a new hat and white gloves. :)

    2. Most of my clothes were made by my grandmothers, but I remember that the one I'm wearing in the picture taken inside the church was purchased from a store. I still have it!

      And I'm so glad your dad liked this casserole! I wish I had met him, since we had something in common!