04 September 2008

Casserole Kick

I'm on a casserole kick lately. Blame it on the final weeks of pregnancy or a recent late-summer dose of cool weather and rain. Whatever the case, I've made two dishes recently that while aren't new, they were new to me. Both were inspired by items I had in my pantry and veggie basket.

The first is a dish I'll call Just Veg Lasagna. It started with slices of zucchini, eggplant and carrots. The large chunks of vegetable sliced about 1/4 inch think got a toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and then headed for a trip under the broiler until lightly browned and cooked thoroughly. A red sauce combined sauteed onions, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes and their juice over a medium heat to reduce. Once about half the liquid was reduced, I popped that mixture into the food processor with a handful of pitted black olives and bread crumbs. Then I simply built my casserole, lasagna style, alternating layers of the veggies, sauce and cheese. A quick trip in the oven to melt the cheese (finished under the broiler for browning), finished the dish.

The second dish was a version of the old Tamale Pie. I cooked polenta with some salsa verde (the kind for enchiladas, not chips), frozen corn and a good dose of salt. Once cooked, I added in some shredded cheddar. I spread the polenta in the bottom of a casserole in an even layer. Then I combined some leftover cooked ground pork, a can of rinse and drained beans, sauteed onions, chili powder and salt. That mixture was spread on evenly over the polenta layer and then topped with cheddar. The dish was warmed in the oven and also finished under the broiler to brown cheese.

As Seth said, the dishes weren't quite gourmet, but he did ask for seconds.

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