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Friday, August 22, 2008

Homey vegetable casserole


Shame on me. I bought groceries without a menu plan, shopping the sales. I don’t usually do that because you have to go out shopping again after you figure out what to cook. This week I said “Fuggeddaboud id!” (Think Mickey Blue Eyes.)

So with my purchases in mind, I searched through cookbooks and the Internet for a recipe for a gratin with potatoes and eggplant. I was about to just make something up when I found this on Ashbury’s Aubergines Web site at http://www.aubergines.org/.

It was tempting to load this casserole up with more than the 2 or so cups of cheese called for, but a trip to my doctor this week (and the number on her scale) dissuaded me from adding more fat. I did add a bit more Parmesan and bread crumbs just by virtue of not measuring. I skipped the green pepper, which is banned from the house by my husband Joe, doubled the onion and used it in two layers, increased the garlic and added dried Italian herbs to the seasoning layers. I also peeled the eggplant, because I sometimes find the skin unappetizing. I added a little sugar to the tomato sauce, something an Italian taught me years ago.

Be sure to use nonstick foil or spray regular foil to avoid lifting off the top layer of cheese when the casserole is ready for the final baking time.

Next time, I may try lining the pan with the potato slices, because I think it would taste even better than the eggplant as it gets crusty during the baking time of as long as two hours. I’ll just put the eggplant slices on the next layer up. I may add spinach for more vitamins and color.

Leftovers microwave fine, but it really is best fresh out of the oven before the crispy edges soften. We had it with homemade cornbread and sliced fresh peaches.

Eggplant and Potato Casserole, adjusted
Makes 6 large servings

1 eggplant (about 3/4 lb.), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
4 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/4 strips
2 small or medium yellow onions, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
1 large zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled Italian-style tomatoes with juice
2 tbsp. sugar
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a large baking dish or 4-quart Dutch oven. Arrange eggplant slices on bottom and along sides of dish. Layer an onion over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, a fourth of the garlic, 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, a tablespoon Parmesan, and a fourth of the mozzarella. Arrange potato slices, overlapping slightly, over eggplant. Again, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, a fourth of the garlic, 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, a tablespoon Parmesan, and a fourth of the mozzarella. Arrange peppers and onions over potatoes and repeat the seasoning layer. Top with zucchini.

In a separate bowl, crush tomatoes by hand (a potato masher can be handy here) and stir in the remaining garlic, olive oil, sugar, and a little salt and pepper. Spoon mixture over vegetables, and sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs and cheeses. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for about 90 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the top a bit browned. Let sit for a few minutes to make it easier to cut and remove servings to plates.

2 comments:

blinfish said...

you "fonny" Debby! :)
Congrats on your blog and looking forward to getting some new recipes
Betty

M.B. said...

Oh, man, it's only 9:15 a.m. and I'm already hungry. Love the blog!