As I stood looking at all the stalls at the farmer’s market last weekend, I started wondering what vegetables would taste good together. Following my Irish heritage, I started with potatoes and then in honor of The Artist’s Italian family, some zucchini made the list. The bright red of early tomatoes are a must and I can’t imagine cooking anything savory without onions. Yea! I had the base for my vegetarian casserole, this Gluten Free Baked Vegetable Gratin.
The vegetables are very easy to prepare – all you need is a sharp knife. While a long chef’s knife makes really fast work of this task, a mid-length is easier for beginning cooks to handle. I like my 8-inch chef’s knife, but you can use any that you like. Be sure to use that steel to set the edge!
How could I showcase the vegetables 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 their beautiful colors complemented each other. The tricky part is keeping them upright in the pan while setting them in lines. 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?!
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 vegetables 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!
The seasonings blended with the natural liquid in the vegetables to coat every bite with a lovely flavor with just a touch of spice from the ancho. When you are putting it together, don’t be afraid of using plenty of 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.
And finally, the last component of my baked 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. You can leave this off for a vegan dish.
When The Artist walked in the door with the house full of the delicious aromas of roasting vegetables, a smile brightened his face. That made all the work worth it! We sat down to a vegetarian dinner, nibbling away on the gratin I had put together, enjoying the flavors of the farmer’s market, and looking forward to the arrival of warm summer breezes.
Enjoy this Gluten Free Baked Vegetable Gratin all year long with any variety of veggies you like and that are in season.
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. Then it is easy to take a piece from each pile as you build your layers.
This dish is naturally gluten-free!
- 2 tsp organic olive oil
- 5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and 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 (leave off for dairy-free)
- 2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 9x13-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.
- Yield: 4 to 6 main course servings; about 8 side servings
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