By Emily Ryan, The Mercury
Swimming in summer squash? Tomatoes looking terrific? Turn them into something hot, bubbly and oh-so-comforting — a casserole.
“It seems kind of counterintuitive to do casseroles in the summertime,” admitted chef Art Roman. “But they’re great for leftovers. They freeze very well. You can use anything you have on hand.”
He even teaches a class on summer casseroles at his cooking school, The Kitchen Workshop in Paoli.
“They’re great for entertaining,” Roman said. “They can be healthy. They can be decadent.”
On the healthy side: vegan and gluten-free enchilada casserole from The Wildflower Chef in West Chester.
“People still like eating a hot meal year-round,” agreed personal chef Emily Scott. “I’ve been making a lot of casseroles for clients who are traveling. They’ll take them to the shore with them.”
“They’re really easy to pack and go,” she added.
Another plus: Casseroles can work for breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch.
“Frittatas are not often thought of as a casserole, but one of my friends serves them in a large glass pan … whenever she serves brunch,” explained Rebecca Talbot, who blogs for Wolff’s Apple House in Media. “It’s a great way to feed a crowd!”
For “a different take on a summer casserole,” try summer squash shakshuka with baked eggs.
“It sure sounds tasty,” described Karen Vollmecke of Vollmecke Orchards & CSA in West Brandywine. “I am looking forward to making one with all the wonderful ingredients that we are harvesting right now.”
Prefer pasta? Baked ziti with summer veggies is a “good catch-all, depending upon what’s in the garden,” Roman said.
And “if you are going to have the oven going, make an apple pie too!”
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 1 hour 25 minutes Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup snipped sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup basil
1 medium Vidalia onion, cut into chunks
1 zucchini, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Arrange onions and zucchini in two baking dishes, giving them space so they’ll brown nicely. Drizzle them with oil and roast at 400 degrees for 45 min to 1 hour. Halfway through, pull them out of the oven and flip every vegetable over, then continue roasting. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.
Beat the eggs until they’re nice and frothy. Place butter in a glass baking pan and place in oven briefly until butter is melted. Spread the butter around, so it covers the bottom of the pan. Add the eggs and then the vegetables. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the eggs are no longer runny.
Carefully pull the pan out of the oven, sprinkle with feta and return the pan to the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes to toast the cheese.
RECIPE COURTESY OF REBECCA TALBOT
Summer Squash Shakshuka
(Adapted from The Kitchen)
2 pounds grated summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan, etc.)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 medium shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ pound chopped tomatoes
¼ cup loosely packed chiffonade of basil, plus more for garnish
4 to 6 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle shredded squash with salt and set aside in a colander. In a cast iron skillet, sauté the garlic and shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add paprika. Squeeze liquid from shredded squash. Add shredded squash to skillet and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until liquid is mostly cooked out. Add basil and stir well.
Smooth out squash mixture in skillet and create small wells for your eggs. Crack an egg into each well and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Cook at 375 degrees until eggs are set to your desired doneness. About 10 minutes for soft yolks. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve with crusty bread.
RECIPE COURTESY OF VOLLMECKE ORCHARDS & CSA
Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies
One joy of making summer casseroles is that you can use what ingredients you have on hand or what’s prolific in the garden. Have corn or eggplant? Swap them with some of the squash. No mozzarella but cheddar in the fridge? Go for it!
4 ounces uncooked ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, zucchini and onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Combine ricotta, remaining salt and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.
RECIPE COURTESY OF THE KITCHEN WORKSHOP
Vegan & Gluten-Free Enchilada Casserole
(Based off of a recipe for vegan enchiladas from OhSheGlows.com)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sweet potato, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 handfuls spinach, chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2½ cups enchilada sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, to taste
Salt, to taste
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Green onion and chopped cilantro, to garnish
1 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-by-8-inch casserole dish or whatever you have on hand (more on this later). Precook the chopped sweet potato by simmering it in a small pot of water for about 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil, then add in onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and reduce heat to low and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the chopped pepper, precooked sweet potato, drained black beans and chopped spinach. Cook for about 5 to 7 more minutes on medium-low heat.
Next, add enchilada sauce to the skillet. Stir well and add cumin, fresh lime juice, salt, garlic powder and chili powder. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
Scoop about 3/4 to 1 cup of the mixture onto the bottom of your casserole dish and spread out in a thin layer. Begin layering tortillas and filling, alternating, until casserole dish is filled. (I have done this in very small individual pans or in larger casserole dishes. You want to end up with 3 layers of tortillas. You can overlap their edges a bit.) Sprinkle with vegan cheese if preferred.
Bake tortillas at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Top with chopped cilantro and green onion.
RECIPE COURTESY OF THE WILDFLOWER CHEF