Monday, July 2, 2012

Vegetable Casserole

No family dinner that I've ever hosted has ever been complete without the veggie casserole I had been making ever since my mom let me help make dishes for the table. The recipe comes out of an ancient book called "What's Cooking?". I have no idea where the book came from and trying to find it online these days is practically impossible, but thinking back to those years it was probably found at a garage sale for a quarter. In those penny-pinching days lots of things came from a garage sale. I loved that book because all the recipes were easy, each recipe had a picture, and in every chapter it had a breakdown of some complicated techniques in a full spread. I remember following the recipe to the letter and being extremely proud when my mother would ask for seconds.

I'd changed the recipe many times over the years, adding different veggies or mixing up the spices. Every time I organize a family dinner though, when my mother inevitably calls me to discuss the menu, and after I reassure her 17 times that no, she really doesn't need to bring anything (she always does anyways, and I'm always not-so-secretly happy about that) she always asks "are you making my pie?". It's not a necessarily pretty thing, though I do try layering the tomatoes on top to make it look better, but there are mushrooms in the slightly salty crust, it's full of veggies and it's delicious. Plus it makes my mom happy.

Veggie Casserole

Vegetable Casserole
Adapted from an ancient copy of "What's Cooking? vol 2"

1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups Saltines, crushed
1 onion, half diced and half sliced
1 zucchini, diced*
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
4 eggs
1 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil or a few leaves fresh, minced
1 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In a skillet, melt margarine, sautee mushrooms and diced onion. Take off heat and add saltines, mixing well.
3. Line a deep 9" pie plate with the mixture, spreading over the bottom and the sides and pressing it in to make a crust. Cover with sliced onion and zucchini, and top with tomato slices.
4. In a bowl mix eggs with the remaining ingredients, except for Parmesan, and whisk. Pour into the crust, sprinkle with the Parmesan and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the pie looks set in the middle. Serve hot.

* You can make this with any kind of vegetable you like. Sometimes I add more mushrooms into the filling (my family goes crazy over mushrooms), sometimes I caramelize the onions in the filling. Just be sure to either shred or pre-cook any firmer vegetables for which 30 min is not enough to cook through and you'll be just fine.

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