Updated: 7:53 a.m. Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | Posted: 9:39 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Summer Vegetable Casserole
> Perfect for: Potlucks, cookouts, weeknight suppers. > Bake at home: Serve room temperature or reheat at destination. > Made famous by: Elaine Groves of Stone Mountain, who created it for her family. "It's even better the next day, " she said.
The tomatoes, artichoke hearts and spices give this beautiful side dish a Mediterranean touch.
Hands on time: 25 minutes Total time: 1 hour and 45 minutes Serves: 8
2 Chinese eggplant or 1 medium fancy eggplant, sliced 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick 1/4 cup olive oil, divided 2 medium potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick Ground pepper to taste 1 tablespoon dried basil, divided 1 tablespoon dried oregano, divided 1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, divided 3 yellow squash, thinly sliced 1 (7-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered 1 large onion, thinly sliced 1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes 1 cup white wine
Spray the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish or 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking oil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Soak the eggplant slices in salted water. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown the potato slices on both sides (they do not need to be completely cooked through). Arrange in the bottom of the prepared pan. Drain the eggplant and blot lightly with a paper towel. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same skillet and lightly brown the eggplant on both sides. Arrange over potatoes. Season with ground pepper, half the basil, half the oregano and half the cheese. Arrange sliced squash on top. Sprinkle with the artichoke hearts. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Lightly saute the onion slices. Spread over the vegetables in the casserole. Spread the tomatoes and their juice on top of the onions. Sprinkle with more ground pepper, plus the remaining basil, oregano and cheese. Pour the wine over the top and cover tightly with a glass lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, checking once during baking to make sure the vegetables are not drying out (if they are, add 1/2 cup water). When the cheese is melted and the vegetables are tender, remove foil or lid and cook an additional 10 minutes to lightly brown the top. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.
> Tip: This casserole is best served at room temperature or just slightly warm, when the flavors are at their fullest.
Tester's note: Depending on what is coming out of your garden or local farmers market, you can add or substitute zucchini, fresh tomatoes or young okra. Try adding some pitted kalamata olives with the artichoke hearts, too.