Yea! It is time for Food Network’s #SummerSoiree! I had to skip the last few springtime postings because I was traveling, but I am back now and very excited to get back to creating recipes that match the weekly themes. This week’s theme is Summer Casseroles and I have a real winner for you!
When I first heard this week’s theme, I was a little confused. To me casseroles are usually made in the winter when we are looking for heavy comfort food. I had to spin my brain around and start to think about what vegetables are in season right now and what would taste good together.
Being the good Irish gal that I am, I started with potatoes (LOL) and then in honor of The Artist’s heritage some zucchini made the list. Of course summer tomatoes are a must and I can’t imagine cooking anything savory without onions. Ha! I had the base for my casserole.
Now, how am I going to season them? I didn’t want a heavy cream sauce or a ton of breadcrumbs (they aren’t needed and I can’t have the gluten anyway), I really wanted the vegetable to shine. I could go so many directions – Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, etc. But I kept it fairly simple and made up a mixture of ancho chile powder, garlic, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Ahhhh, that speaks to my soul!
What would showcase the vegetables the most and make a pretty presentation for all of you to enjoy? I decided to do a shingled layering of the vegetables so that each one showed and added their beautiful colors to the palate. The tricky part is keeping them upright in the pan while layering them in. Working from the short side of the pan, I was able to hold them steady while tucking in the next layer. It took a little patience, but I think it was worth the effort, don’t you?!
And finally, the last piece of my summer casserole is Parmesan cheese. Yes, everything is better with a little cheese sprinkled over the top, right?! It also browns beautifully under the broiler so the dish is even more gorgeous when it comes out of the oven piping hot.
The vegetables are very easy to prepare – all you need is a sharp knife. The seasonings blended with the liquid in the vegetables to coat every bite with a lovely flavor with just a touch of spice from the ancho powder. When you are putting it together, don’t be afraid of using enough salt – the potatoes will need a lot, more than you think they will. Unless you have a medical condition that requires low sodium, this is one dish you should season well.
If you wind up with any leftover vegetables after filling the pan, you can sauté them for another side dish, use in a stir-fry, toss them into a pot of soup, create a sauce base, or use them in your breakfast omelet. There are always lots of ways to utilize vegetables in my kitchen!
The Artist had a tough day today. When he walked in the door with the house full of the delicious aromas of roasting vegetables, a slow, tired smile brightened his face. That made my day! We sat down to a vegetarian dinner, nibbling away on the gratin I had put together, enjoying the flavors of summer and the warm summer breezes.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you have a lot of vegetables to chop, or any repetitive task, it is easiest and quickest to do one step all the way through before moving on to the next task. In this case, rinse all the vegetables at the same time and set them on a baking sheet. Then slice all the tomatoes before continuing with the zucchini and then the potatoes. Stack the slices onto the baking sheet and finally peel and slice the onions. Make sure you rinse them so you won’t cry as much.
This dish is naturally gluten free!
Summer Vegetable Gratin (Gluten-Free)
© 2014 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.
Yield: 4 to 6 main course servings; about 8 side servings
2 tsp organic olive oil
5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed clean, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
3 small zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
4 large ripe plum tomatoes, core discarded, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 medium onions, peeled, ends cut off, cut in half and cut each half into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 cloves garlic, peeled, green core discarded, finely minced
2 tsp Ancho chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Prepare all of the vegetables and separate them into piles on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, chile powder, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir until evenly blended. Set bowl next to baking dish.
In the baking dish, layer rows of the vegetables, shingling them so that one partially covers the one before. Start with potatoes, then zucchini, tomatoes, and onions, repeating the layers until the baking dish is filled. Sprinkle the seasoning blend over the top of the vegetables.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the hot oven. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake until the vegetables are softened and a sharp knife slips easily into the potatoes, about 30 to 40 minutes. Timing will depend on how thick you slice the potatoes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the Parmesan cheese.
Turn on the broiler and return the pan to the oven, leaving the door cracked a little. Cook, watching carefully, until the cheese is melted and browning in spots, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into squares, sprinkle with the green onions and serve.
Create a New Tradition Today!
This recipe is part of Food Network’s weekly SummerSoiree. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
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
Devour: 5 Picnic Potluck Ideas
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
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