I love this casserole. Fresh, garlicky, sweet...it tastes like summer to me. The eggplant, squash and red bell pepper is first roasted in the oven to sweeten and caramelize. Then everything is layered in a casserole dish with onion, tomatoes, herbs, cheese and pine nuts. Everything just melts together resulting in a delicious taste combination. I could eat this weekly during the season. (actually, I do!)
Of course this is a perfect side dish for grilled chicken, steak or fish. I even serve as a vegetarian main course paired with a green salad. Try serving as an appetizer spread on a crunchy baguette. Chop it up and top a pizza crust...or spread between bread and press into a panini...or use as an omelet filling....or stir into pasta. I can think of many ways to use this wonderful casserole. Welcome summer...I am so happy you are (almost) here!
Summer Eggplant, Squash & Tomato Casserole
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
extra virgin olive oil
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 slices
1 yellow crookneck squash, cut into 1/2 slices
1 red bell pepper, cut in half and sliced
1 red onion, cut in half and sliced
2 tbsp garlic paste, homemade or purchased
1 750 grams box (26.46 oz) chopped tomatoes (I like the Pomi brand) or, in season, 3 cups peeled and seeded fresh heirloom tomatoes
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil on parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Dredge both sides of eggplant slices in the oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Line a second rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with 2 tbsp oil. Dredge squash and red bell pepper in the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add to oven with the eggplant. Roast for 15 minutes or until vegetables have softened. The eggplant should be soft and caramelized in spots. Remove both trays from oven. Spread the garlic paste over the top of each eggplant slice. Reduce heat to 400 degrees.
Layer the onions in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch rectangular or oval casserole pan. Top the onions with the eggplant slices. Overlap slices to cover any gaps. Cover slices with half of the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and 1 tbsp parsley over top of tomatoes. Sprinkle half of the cheese over tomatoes.
Layer the squash and red bell pepper over the cheese. Cover the vegetables with the remaining tomatoes. Sprinkle remaining parsley, pinch each salt and pepper and remaining cheese over top of casserole. Scatter pine nuts over top.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until casserole is bubbling, cheese melted and pine nuts toasted. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.
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