Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer Vegetable Casserole

Squash, zucchini, tomatoes... summer bounty! It's the end of the season, and we're all looking for ways to use the warm weather harvest. I decided to put my favorite warm weather veggies into a casserole-- perfect for when the days are getting cool enough to heat up your oven. Baked with a layer of crunchy panko breadcrumbs on top, it's a crisp and flavorful way to enjoy an end-of-summer dinner.

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 TBSP butter, plus a little extra for the baking dish
  • 1 summer squash, sliced thin
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced thin (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, broiled and cut into 1 inch pieces (Need instructions for how to broil asparagus? I shared a recipe a while back--
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 TBSP italian seasoning
  • 3 cups "italian blend" cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, provolone, fontina, etc.)
  • salt and pepper (on the asparagus), to taste
To Make
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat up a skillet, add the olive oil, and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent and lightly browned. Add a little salt if you like. 
  3. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with butter. 
  4. Layer your casserole: First a zucchini and squash layer, then onions and garlic, then asparagus, then tomatoes, then cheese. Repeat until you reach the top of the pan and top with cheese. 
  5. Melt the 4 TBSP butter and stir into the panko and italian herbs. 
  6. Top the casserole with the panko blend and any remaining cheese. 
  7. Cover the dish with foil and bake, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Uncover the baking dish, raise the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake the casserole for another 5-10 minutes... until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye of things during this stage; the breadcrumbs can burn very easily.
  9. Allow the cooked casserole to rest for 10 or so minutes before serving to give it the opportunity to set.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Salem Bake

I'm by no means the first person to come up with the idea of putting chopped vegetables in a foil packet on the barbecue, but I give you my family's version: The Salem Bake. Named for Salem, New York, the town where my Dad first put the Salem Bake together and placed it on the grill, this is a great dish to throw together when you're looking for a vegetarian-friendly alternative to the usual veggie kebabs. There's no recipe, just "guidelines." This truly is one dish you can make up as you go.

What You'll Need
  • root vegetables, chopped into small-medium bite size pieces 
    • Examples: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, etc.
  • more vegetables, chopped small
    • Examples: Carrots, Sweet Onions, Asparagus, Squash, Zucchini, etc.
  • garlic, minced
  • your favorite herbs and spices
    • Examples: salt and pepper to taste, fresh or dried rosemary, sage, etc.
  • fat
    • olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, etc.
To Make
  1. Heat up your grill!
  2. Layer a couple large pieces of foil as the bottom foundation of your bake. 
  3. Fill the foil with your veggies of choice. When you're doing this, make like you're filling a burrito-- add too much and you will make your bake unwieldy when you go to move it to your grill.
  4. Add a little oil and/or dot with butter.
  5. Toss in your herbs and spices. Not sure what to add? The basic kosher salt and freshly ground pepper have never failed to disappoint!
  6. Close up the bake with another layer or two of foil, and pat into a rectangle.
  7. Put your foil packet on the grill. The cooking time will depend on how big you chopped your vegetables and how hot your barbecue is, but my time usually averages about 45 minutes. 
  8. To test for doneness, tear a little whole in the top of the foil (watch out for steam!) and poke your biggest vegetable with a fork (just like poking a baked potato in the oven). If the fork comes in and out easily you are done!