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Vegetarian Casserole

Casseroles are fun and easy to cook – and the result is always rewarding.

Cooking rich flavored Casseroles when using meat is a piece of cake – but achieving complex and deep flavors in a vegetarian Casserole – this was a challenge. It took me a lot of trying and a lot of failures. Most recipes I found resulted in disasters – mushy vegetables, bland flavors …

When my family members were drawn from their hiding places by the smell (“what’s cooking ? will it be ready for tonight?”) – I knew I got it right.

When cooking – I always think that using your imagination and being creative is a good advice – but in this case – I suggest to stick to the vegetables I used (you can omit the kohlrabi if you cant find fresh small ones). No green vegetables – no mushy vegetables.

One last thing – to get deep “Umami” flavors in vegetarian cooking – I use Vegetarian Dashi stock  (based on Kumbo & Shiitake). In this case – I used fresh Shiitake mushrooms instead. You can use either – or even use dried Shiitake (put them in a little warm water for 10 minutes – then add them and the water to the Casserole). But please – do use one of those options !!!

Ingredients

Heat your oven to 150 degrees celcius.

Put a heavy pot (that can later be placed in the oven) on medium heat – and add a generous layer of olive oil (this is the only fat going into the Casserole – so do be generous).

I work in the following order – each time preparing the next vegetable to join the party while the previous are sweating in the pot (remember to stir the vegetables in the pot gently while preparing the next vegetables).

When vegetables smell like heaven add

Stir gently to cover all vegetables in a nice shiny red color

Now add water (if using Dashi – add it now). Water should cover the vegetables + 2 centimeters – remember – we have uncooked beans in there – and casserole will be cooking for a long time.

Bring to a boil. Turn of the heat. Cover with a baking sheet and the pots lid on top (the baking sheet helps reduce the evaporation of the liquid). Place the pot in the pre-heated oven for … a long time (2.5 – 3 hours). Although vegetables and beans will be fully cooked in 1.5 hours – we do need that long time to develop flavors and get the sauce “concentrated”.

Important Notices

Once ready – take the pot out of the oven and … let it rest !!! Do not eat it immediately – it must be left calmly for at least 2 hours (there is some magic happening in a Casserole after its removed from the heat – ingredients “suck” up the sauce – and flavors “develops”). It will taste even better the next day.

Serve it on your favorite “sauce absorbing platform” – rice/quinoa/mashed potatoes … my favorites is real Couscous (not to be confused with Israeli couscous – nor with those awful instant couscous packages you can buy in any supermarket).

 

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