Sadly, the season where the garden overflows with vegetables is coming to an end. The last of the bounty of deep green zucchini, bright purple eggplant; glowing, yellow summer squash and plump, rouge tomatoes has been picked. The end of the garden era – or, at least until next season. Bumper Crop Quinoa Casserole explodes with the flavors of bright citrus, earthy garlic, refreshing herbs and fine cheeses. The base of the casserole is nutritious, protein rich quinoa. It is a straightforward grain that absorbs and highlights all of the flavors in the robust, hearty dish. Simply put, if the last of the garden’s glory must be sacrificed, this recipe pays true respect and homage to the end of summer.
My husband, Dr. Ward by day and Farmer Greg by night, and I enjoyed this dish late at night after respective longs days of work. We poured glasses of crisp, white Portuguese wine and dipped crusty, warm baguette into fine, deep green extra virgin olive oil. A simple salad of baby greens, figs, maple roasted nuts and peaches was tossed with a basic, homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Then, we ate. Yes. A harmonious medley of flavors and textures echoed through the night. The heat of the casserole warmed our stomaches, and our souls, with each bite. The corners of the dish are crispy and rich and the inside pillowy, soft and welcoming.
Later, I realized that neither of us commented that the dish lacked fish or meat, which are so typical in the daily American diet. We felt so incredibly nourished by the healthful, vitamin-rich vegetables; so satiated by the protein of the fresh eggs and quinoa and so completely appeased by the complex flavors of the artisan cheeses. The sun had set on another day, ending with a lovely, “Meatless Tuesday,” fresh from the garden.
The ingredients for Bumper Crop Quinoa Casserole appear, Above
The assembling of Bumper Crop Quinoa Casserole, is shown, above
Let’s begin cooking – so that we may commence eating!
Bumper Crop Quinoa Casserole
Filled with fresh herbs, vegetables and oozes of flavorful, melted cheese; it is unapologetically brimming with fresh garlic
Ingredients for the casserole:
3 cups prepared easy garlic-herb quinoa, entire recipe, below
6 cups of simply roasted vegetables, entire recipe, below
5 large, fresh eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk or regular milk (any milk-fat content)
3/4 cup fresh basil (or any soft, green herb of choice, such as parsley), finely chopped
2 T finely rosemary (or thyme), finely chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup medium red onion or shallot, finely chopped (about 1/2 of a medium onion)
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano (or any hard, flavorful Italian cheese, such as Parmigiano Reggiano), shredded or grated
1 tsp of fine salt or cracked sea salt
2 tsp of cracked black pepper
Ingredients for the topping and oiling of pan:
4 large tomatoes (I used red, heirloom tomatoes from our garden), halved and then thinly sliced into “moon” shapes
3/4 cup País Vasco (or any softer, grated sheep’s milk cheese, such as Manchego; or, use fresh mozzarella), shredded or grated
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin garlic olive oil
Additional salt, pepper, for top of casserole
1.) Pre-heat oven to 375°F or 191°C. Combine all ingredients, through fine salt and cracked black pepper, in a large bowl and mix well. Then, using a paper towel, spread the extra virgin olive oil in a large glass or ceramic baking dish or casserole. Use just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the dish.
2.) Next, pour the contents of the large bowl into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula so the top is smooth and uniform. Place the crescent-shaped tomatoes evenly over the mixture. Then, sprinkle the País Vasco or soft, grated cheese of choice uniformly over the tomatoes. Season the top of the casserole with cracked black pepper and cracked sea salt, to taste.
3.) On the center rack of the oven, bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes. The cheese will be melted but not browned, the edges of the dish slightly crisp and golden and the casserole completely cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, then slice into “lasagna” sized rectangles. Enjoy, preferably with a healthy pour of crisp, white wine.
Easy Garlic-Herb Quinoa
Why buy garlic-herb quinoa in a box if it’s this easy to make? Save money and get more quinoa per dollar with this simple recipe.
1 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock or free range, organic chicken stock
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tsp each dried parsley and oregano, or dried herbs of choice
2 tsp granulated, dried garlic or 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1.) Combine quinoa and chicken stock in small, covered pot and bring to simmer. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all of the water is completely absorbed and the quinoa grains have sprouted small “tails.” Do not open the lid.
2.) Remove from heat and continue to refrain from opening the lid. Allow the quinoa to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Then, fluff with fork and serve or use in the Bumper Crop Quinoa Casserole, above. The one cup of dry quinoa yields about three cups of cooked quinoa. Enjoy!
CLICK HERE TO PRINT RECIPE
Simply Roasted Vegetables
Feel free to substitute any vegetables that are in season and fresh from your garden
2 to 4 Tbsp. light olive oil or canola oil
2 medium zucchini, evenly diced
2 medium yellow summer squash, evenly diced
1 small eggplant, evenly diced
fine salt or cracked sea salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
1.) Preheat oven to 400°F or 204°C. Divide the vegetables evenly between two large sheet pans or cookie sheets. Toss the vegetables with just enough oil to lightly coat them. Spread the vegetables uniformly on the cookie sheets. Then, season the vegetables liberally with salt and pepper.
2.) Place the pans on the center rack of the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and light gold on the bottom. The cooking time may vary based on your oven’s temperature and the amount of vegetables on each pan. Allow vegetables to cool for several minutes on the pans. Then, transfer vegetables to a large bowl.
3.) Enjoy. There is nothing quite like the sweet, slightly salty and smooth bit of a roasted vegetable. A minimal effort yields a giant reward. Use these in pasta, salads or in the Bumper Crop Quinoa Casserole recipe, above.
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