Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vegetable Mosaic Casserole

I'm always on the lookout for ways to add more vegetables to my family's diet. Inspired by the Mosaic Timbale from the Greens Cookbook, I came up with this variable vegetable casserole. It's not a vegan dish by any stretch of the imagination. It's more of an ovo-lacto vegetarian one.

The vegetables and cheese are variable according to season and taste. Use your favorite herbs, as well. The only thing I would keep constant is make sure to use either leeks or an onion, garlic, the eggs and yoghurt for the sauce, and plenty of herbs.

One thing I like about this dish is that it's a casserole. Casseroles have a huge place in Utah Mormon cuisine. Usually you take them to sick or injured neighbor's houses. They can be made in advance and frozen, reheating them for later. This one you'll want to keep for your own table.

Equipment needed
cutting board
kitchen knife
medium mixing bowl
measuring spoons and cups
large frying pan
medium baking dish

2 leeks, white parts only
2 to 3 cups asparagus
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet bell pepper, green or red
4 eggs
2 cups plain yoghurt
1/4 cup low fat milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup bread crumbs or crushed butter crackers (Ritz)
1 teaspoon dried basil, or 2 teaspoons fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
butter and canola oil as needed

Butter a medium baking dish. Coat with a single layer of bread crumbs, reserving the remainder of the crumbs, and set aside.

Quarter the leeks and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Rinse well in a colander or sieve and set aside. Break the bottoms off the asparagus and cut into 1 inch lengths. Seed the bell pepper and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl. Beat the eggs, then mix well with the yoghurt, milk, grated cheese, salt and pepper. Mix in the herbs and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to the hot pan, melting the butter. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Saute until they start to get soft. Add the peas, peppers, asparagus and garlic. Saute until the asparagus is bright green and the vegetables are starting to soften. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In the meantime, heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once cooled a bit, toss the vegetables in the egg mixture until completely coated. Pour the vegetable-egg mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs evenly over the top. Cover and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, so that a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.

Makes 9 servings, enough for dinner and leftovers.

The original Greens Mosaic Timbale was baked and served in individual ramekins with either a tomato or herbed bechamel sauce. They would make a nice addition to this version, as well.

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