Friday, July 22, 2016

Farmers Market Casserole Step-by-Step Recipe

Our local Farmers Market is bursting with the bounty of summer produce. Red, sun ripened tomatoes, purple eggplants, summer squash, onions and leeks, a variety of herbs -- all laid out in tempting display.

I like to cook with seasonal ingredients because not only do you get the best quality and best flavor, but it's also cheaper. 

Unfortunately, I can't limit myself to a few items when faced with such a selection and end up returning home with a bulging bag. And there's the garden produce to consider...and I have to figure out ways to use all of it up and keep the family from complaining.

So I was really excited to discover a recipe in the Weight Watchers Family Meals cookbook that made good use of all kinds of vegetables I'd picked up at the Farmers Market and from my garden.

It's a layered dish, but still pretty easy to make and full of flavor and summertime goodness.

Farmer Market Casserole with Tomato, Eggplant and Zucchini

Right now all the ingredients are in season, which makes this the perfect summer recipe.
Makes 4 servings and is vegetarian and gluten free.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small eggplant (about 3/4 pound), unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano (or you can substitute about 2 or 3 tablespoons of fresh leaves), divided
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh sweet basil
3/4 pound medium to small tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices (should be about equivalent to tomatoes)
1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. Spray a shallow 8-cup casserole dish or 9-inch deep pie plate with olive oil nonstick spray.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant, onions, half the oregano, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper; cook, stirring, until eggplant is very tender and browned in spots, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat if eggplants brown too quickly. Transfer to prepared dish or pie plate.

 3. Mix parsley, basil, remaining oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over eggplant mixture.

Even though the herbs are not the title of the recipe, they are key to adding flavor to the dish! 
4. Arrange tomato and zucchini slices on top of the herb-covered eggplant in alternating rows, overlapping slices.
Don't they look pretty? Mmm, nothing beats the flavor of garden tomatoes.
5. Bake until vegetables are tender and browned along the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
6. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and place under broiler for about 2 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Note: Next time I might use goat cheese or Feta crumbles, both of which are locally produced by El Camino de Las Capbras. If you try it out let me know what you think!

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