Friends with bountiful gardens become even more precious in the summer. Especially if your own turf is too shady to support a garden. August in New England is prime time for the zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes that form the basis of this dish. The inspiration comes from a recipe in Sarah Chase’s New England Open House Cookbook; the produce from Linda and Ron’s lush garden.
We had the casserole as a complete meal with brown rice. It could also be used as a side dish with a protein of your choice. Either way, it’s delicious.
3 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions cut into 1/4 inch crescent slices
2 bell peppers (yellow, orange, or red) seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped (drain off some of the seeds)
3 TBS shredded fresh basil
2 TBS basil pesto (optional, but good)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup combination of jack and cheddar cheeses, shredded
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for about 5-6 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until you can smell the garlic.
2. Add the squashes and tomatoes and cook until they are tender. Around 10-12 minutes.
3. Add the shredded basil and pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour the mixture into a 13×9 baking dish. Top with the shredded cheese.
5. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. The casserole should be bubbling with melted cheese on top.
I cooked the vegetables in the morning and put them in the baking dish. I let them cool a bit, covered and refrigerated them. Later in the afternoon, I took the dish out of the refrigerator to bring it back to room temperature. About 45 minutes before dinner, I sprinkled the cheese on top and baked the casserole.