Casserole Boxes for the Christmas Table
Updated: Jan 30
Finns would say one can't spend Christmas in Finland without a traditional Finnish Christmas table (joulupöytä) with so many different varieties of casserole dishes on the table.
Foreigners have probably been surprised to see the form of 'boxes' available in supermarkets. In the Finnish language, it is called 'laatikko,' which means 'box,' or casserole-dish as it is called in the English language. This article covers laatikko or 'box' dishes and their history, why to try them, how to prepare or enjoy them, and even how to bake them at home.
The word "casserole" in the French language stands for "saucepan. Casseroles are one-dish, oven-baked meals where one can choose different ingredients to put inside a deep-oven dish and slowly cook it in the oven.
History of Finnish casserole
In Finland, back in the day, people celebrated a festival called 'kekri' in November. Christmas celebrations in Finland started later, possibly in the 1800s. Many Finnish Christmas foods are derived from the kekri festival. The kekri festival celebrated the harvest season by eating plenty of freshly available food before the following spring. The Christmas casserole dish (laatikko) also comes from the kekri-festival because root veggies like carrots, swede, and potatoes were abundant during that time of the year, and people used them to prepare casserole dishes. According to Juha Nirkko, a senior Finnish Literature Society (SKS) archivist, the root-vegetable casseroles originated in southwest Finland.
It saves time and money.
It is easy to prepare various ingredients in casserole dishes and cook them in the oven. These dishes can be large and provide enough food for the whole family or guests, lasting several days if stored in the fridge. One can create a delicious mixture by combining leftover foods at home or affordable items from food stores, such as potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and beans. This comfort meal can be cooked nicely and enjoyed by all.
It's delicious and versatile.
One can easily create a rich and flavorful meal by choosing one's favorite ingredients and adding a delicious dressing or sauce. Casseroles come in a wide variety, from sweet to savory, and can even be served as a dessert. This makes them a versatile dish that can be enjoyed anytime, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are also perfect for taking to work or school or enjoying a picnic. When cooked in the oven, casseroles develop a deep and mature flavor that will satisfy your taste buds.
Casserole recipes for you to try and enjoy
Finnish Swede casserole is a popular dish that is eaten during the Christmas holidays. Potato casserole is also a favorite Christmas dish, often served as school food. Kaalilaatikko / Finnish Cabbage Casserole is made with rice and is suitable for families at any time of the year. The famous Macaroni casserole can be without any introduction or explanation since it is mainly known by Finns and among foreigners as soon as they come to Finland.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you get inspired and interested in making some casserole dishes and buying them from the shops, especially during Christmas when the shops are full of many.