Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zucchini, Potato, and Squash Casserole

Lately I have felt like I am in a food rut!  Pasta, potatoes, tacos...blah.  All of those foods are good in and of themselves, but sometimes you just have to do something different! Plus, it's now FALL!  Boots & leggings time! And comfort food time.  

 Last Friday my husband stopped by Boa Vista orchards on the way home from work.  We have the privilege of living 15 minutes from Apple Hill, a wonderful area of orchards and vendors just beyond Placerville on the way to Lake Tahoe.  For $11, he picked up a good amount of apples, squash, zucchini, and potatoes!  Since we aren't able to eat everything in one day, I needed to use up some of the vegetables for dinner this week.  I decided to try and make a casserole/layered vegetable dish.  This is completely made up and ended up being quite tasty.  It's super-easy to put together on a weeknight OR on a weekend for a side dish for entertaining!  Here goes:

Cheesy Zucchini, Potato, and Squash layer/casserole 

Servings:  3-4 at least.  Use more ingredients for a thicker casserole but keep in mind baking time will be longer to cook through

Sliced Zucchini (1-2)
Sliced Yellow squash (1-2)
Sliced Russet Potatoes (2-3)
Shredded cheddar cheese (I used a block cheese and shredded it)
Salt, pepper, herbs, garlic powder, etc.
Olive oil
1-2 bullion cubes dissolved in a few tablespoons of hot water
Chopped fresh shallots or onions

Directions:  Super easy.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread a very thin layer of olive oil on the bottom of a large baking dish (9x13).  Begin with a layer of potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbs, and all seasonings of your choice.  Add some layers of zucchini and squash.  Season as you go on each layer.  

I also sprinkled finely-diced onions on the vegetables:

Top the veggies with shredded cheese, the amount up to your personal preference.  I used a brand from Safeway called Open Nature, mild cheddar cheese. It melts very smooth and it's also not dyed any yellow or orange color, so it comes out white and very natural looking:

Continue to layer until a few times. On your last layer of choice, use the shredded cheese as the last item as it will melt and brown very nicely. 
The next step is to take the bullion that you have dissolved in a few tablespoons of very hot water and sprinkle it evenly on top, letting the liquid drip through the veggies.  I used my favorite Rapunzel salt-free vegan bullion:


Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for at least 15 minutes.  I'm such a throw-together cook, I don't monitor my cook times as well as I should, so I'm sorry it's not perfectly accurate.  I used a fork to check the softness of the potatoes.  At the very end, I set my oven on BROIL for just a few minutes to get that nice golden-brown crust on the cheese and veggies.  

The finished product looks like this:

We just ate this as is, but you could serve with some crusty bread and a salad for a great vegetarian dinner.  Or, use this dish as a tasty side for entrees.  If you prefer more creaminess, a roux-based cheese sauce made with a little flour, butter, cream cheese, and shredded cheese of your choice would be great!  Perfect for those chilly fall days.