I have made this dish at least 20 times and it has never been the same twice, but the recipe below forms the basis of what has now become one of my kitchen staples. I find it works better in winter as it is warm and wholesome, but can be served in summer with salad.
I know it is time to make a vegetable bake when I have 1 or 2 of every vegetable left in the fridge but not enough to prepare a side with each – it is the ‘use up the last of the vegetables before going to the market’ bake. It covers a wide range of nutrients required in a vegetarian diet, but it is also a great option for non vegetarians too. It tastes much better than it photographs, I promise. Enjoy!
- 1 x large zucchini
- 1 x capsicum/pepper
- 1 x large onion
- 4 x large diced tomatoes (or 1 x can of diced tomato)
- 400 grams of beans (white beans like cannellini and butter beans work best but any beans are fine)
- 75 to 150 grams cheese (tasty and parmesan work best but any cheese is fine)
- 1 x large potato
- 1 x sweet potato
- 2 x carrots
- 1 – 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tsp tomato paste diluted with ½ cup water
- Fresh basil, oregano and thyme or Italian dried mixed herbs
- Large casserole dish with lid
- Sharp knife, there’s lots of cutting!
- Slice all vegetables so that they are as long and thin or round and thin as possible – the aim is to build your vegetable slices into layers to fit your baking dish. Cut onions into rings, zucchini and carrots diagonally, cut potatoes as thinly as possible (because they take the longest to cook and shouldn’t really be eaten undercooked) and put them all on a plate to the side so you can start building.
- Start layering the vegetables into the casserole dish – potato usually goes first, then sweet potato, some zucchini, onion, carrot and capsicum. Your dish should be about 1/3 to ½ full.
- Add half of the garlic, half of the diced tomato and half of the beans.
- You don’t really need any other liquid in this dish as the water from the zucchini should mix with the tomato to make the sauce, but I sometimes add a few spoons of tomato paste or a pre-made bolognaise sauce to give a richer tomato flavour. Drizzle this over your vegetable layers, add some grated cheese, then… start again!
- Potato, zucchini, onion, carrot, capsicum… the rest of the garlic, tomato, beans and sauce.
- Finally top off your bake with the remaining cheese and place in a medium (180C) oven for 30 to 45 minutes. For the final 5 minutes remove the lid and turn the oven to high until the cheese is golden brown.
TIP: A great addition to this dish is vegetarian bacon chips, a soy product which is designed to bring a flavour bang to vegetarian foods. They taste like bacon but no pigs die in the making.
For non-vego’s, this is a great meal to cut down on your meat intake. A single chorizo sausage provides enough flavour to serve this dish to 4 people who would probably never consider eating vegetarian.