By Nava Atlas
Vegetable Upside-Down Casserole
Everyone likes fruity upside-down cakes; why not try the same approach with vegetables? This casserole, which is fun to make and even more fun to eat, has quickly become a family favorite. It’s a great way to use up small amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables; you can keep it simple or come up with more sophisticated combinations, as tastes dictate.
3 to 4 cups cut-up vegetables of your choice
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup wheat germ
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup low-fat yogurt or soy yogurt
¾ cup low-fat milk, rice milk or soy milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup grated cheese or non-dairy cheese of your choice, optional
1. Saute the vegetables in olive oil until just tender. Set aside.
2. Preheat the over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil and shallow, round two-quart casserole or a 9”x13” baking pan.
3. Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yogurt, milk and vegetable oil. Stir together until well mixed.
4. Pour the vegetables into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the cheese, if using, then pour the batter evenly over the vegetables, gently smoothing it out with a spatula.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden and firm. Let stand for about 10 minutes, then cut into wedges or squares to serve.
Makes four to six servings.
Here are some combimations my family likes. Use your own mix or keep it simple and use just one vegetable. As a rule of thumb, use 3 to 4 cups of vegetables (with the exception of tiny veggies like corn and peas, which have more density) and sauté in a wide skillet until just tender. If using onions, sauté until golden before adding other vegetables.
Corn, tomato and scallion Saute 2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked fresh corn or frozen corn kernels, thawed; 2 medium tomatoes, diced; and 1 to 2 scallions, sliced thinly, in a little olive oil, just until the tomato has softened slightly. If you’d like, add one 4-ounce can chopped milk green chilies.
Broccoli and onion Saute 1 medium-large onion, quartered and sliced thinly, in a small amount of olive oil until golden. Add 4 cups bite-size broccoli florets and a bit of water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is just beyond tender-crisp. Drain off any liquid.
Squash and spinach Saute 1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise and sliced thinly into half-circles, and 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional), in a little olive oil until just tender. Add 8 to 10 ounces chopped fresh spinach leaves. Cover and cook just until the spinach wilts, about 1 minute. If desired, add a small quantity of chopped fresh herbs.
Other sautéed vegetables that work well are mushrooms, carrots, peas and cauliflower. See what’s in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator and have fun!
It’s easy to make an “adult half” to this casserole, though this is entirely optional. Simply divide the sautéed vegetables into two small baking pans. Add embellishments to one batch, such as minced garlic, chopped herbs, sliced sun-dried tomatoes or green chilies. Divide the batter between the pans and bake as directed.
Make it a meal
This needs only a hearty soup or substantial salad to make a satisfying meal. Tomato-based soups such as Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup (page 50, The Vegetarian Family Cookbook) and Streamlined Minestrone (page 40, The Vegetarian Family Cookbook) complement this recipe well. Or, to keep the meal simple, serve a bountiful tossed salad with some chickpeas or pinto beans tossed in, plus baked or microwaved sweet potatoes.
For picky eaters
I can’t guarantee it, but presenting this dish as an “upside-down cake” migh be sufficient to entice young eaters to try it. It helps to use vegetables you know your children enjoy. Serve with baby carrots and anything from the salad your children might like; add a ranch dressing or Easy Dill Dip (page 256, The Vegetarian Family Cookbook).
Broccoli-onion option (using 1 tablespoon oil)
Calories: 197 Calories: 195
Total fat: 5 g Total fat: 5 g
Protein: 10 g Protein: 7 g
Fiber: 5.9 g Fiber: 6.2 g
Carbohydrates: 31 g Carbohydrates: 34 g
Cholesterol: 4 g Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 648 mg Sodium: 628 mg
© Nava Atlas; excerpted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas
Nava Atlas is the author and illustrator of many books on vegetarian cooking and other subjects, including The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet, The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, Vegetarian Soups for all Seasons and Vegetariana. Her site In a Vegetarian Kitchen with Nava Atlas features dozens of easy, healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes, tips, forums, a monthly e-zine and opt-in newsletters.