Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 18, 2010: Casserole for Kirsten

I recently cooked this meal to share with some colleagues and I'm naming it after Kirsten in particular because it's designed with her dietary needs in mind.  Kirsten is vegetarian, gluten-free and has an intolerance to fructans and galactans.  This means a whole host of veges - including legumes, onion and plants of the brassica genus - are off limits.  I took inspiration from the Fox Hotel vegetarian moussaka that so impressed me the previous weekend, gently cooking down some Kirsten-friendly vege chunks in tomato and garlic and slathering them with an ultra-cheesy mash, baked until a little crispy on top.  It takes quite some time but it's not too complicated and yields many, many serves; a truly hearty and homely meal for the depths of winter. 

Casserole for Kirsten

first layer
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 large tomatoes
1 green capcicum
1 large carrot
2 small zucchinis
10 button mushrooms
1 large eggplant
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

second layer
5 large potatoes
1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup milk
salt and pepper

Mince the garlic.  Place the oil and garlic in a large pot over medium-low heat. Finely chop the tomatoes and add them to the pot as you chop them, bashing them a little with a wooden spoon. Gradually chop and add the other vegetables as they're ready - the carrot in tiny cubes, capsicum in medium-sized chunks, zucchini in half-moons, mushrooms and eggplant in large chunks.  Cook the vegetables, stirring regularly, until they are very tender, at least 30 minutes.  Add the basil, oregano, parsley, tamari and balsamic vinegar.  Taste the mixture, seasoning and adjusting the flavour balance to your liking.

While the vegetables are cooking, peel and chop the potatoes into chunks. Place them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the potatoes to the boil and cook them until they're very tender, about 15 minutes.  Mash the potatoes thoroughly, adding the cheese, butter and milk as you go - you want a thinner, more spreadable mash than you would usually use as a side dish.  Season the mash to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  In a large casserole dish, and pour the tomato-sauced vegatable mixture into it.  Gently spread over the mashed potatoes.  Bake the casserole until it's golden-brown and a little crisp on top, about 15 minutes.

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