The past few days have been overcast, windy and downright cool in South Florida. I can’t seem to get warm. I cringe to think what my stylish and stunning Godgirl would say if she saw me. That maybe James’ sweatpants from high school were only for people who sweat? That white ankle socks in my fleece-lined moccasins weren’t the sexiest look to rock right now? Or, maybe, just maybe, sweatshirt + sweatpants = balloon person? People, I can honestly tell you she would not be that generous. However, learning that I was about to prepare one of her favorites, she would make a quick about-face and lovingly say, “That’s all right, Yaya. Just don’t go out. Anywhere. Can I have a piece of tomato, please?” Love that girl. Brutal with a capital “B” but absolutely gorgeous. And she will agree that this casserole is just the dish to take the chill off the house and warm your bones. It’s great as a main dish since we all seem to be eating less and less meat. Served with crunchy, whole grain bread it’s a beautiful thing. This dish can be dressed up a million different ways. You can use zucchini, yellow squash or a combination of both, as I’m doing tonight. The squash can be sliced or grated. The dish holds up quite well with sliced potatoes or without. Peeled or not peeled. Oregano, herbs of Provence or basil are all terrific. Parmesan, feta, romano, kefalotiri, Gruyere, just about any sharp cheese works well. I like a combination of cheeses using mostly feta, sometimes all feta or with a scattering of mozzarella. If you use feta, you don’t need to invest in cheese imported from Greece. When you use it to bake, the cheese’s sharpness and flavor changes so it’s hard sometimes to tell the difference between grocery store and the imported stuff that cost one eye and someone’s firstborn. I like to bake or cook with Vigo brand feta in brine, one single block. I wouldn’t give my sweet dog, Pericles, that crumbled stuff, never mind that fat-free junk. If you buy the cheap or already crumbled feta you’ll definitely taste a difference. Don’t do it. This dish is good hot, room temperature or cold. And, of course, the fact that the dish contains tomatoes makes it what? Better the next day. Oh, yay for us. My little sister stopped by the other day, she loves this stuff, so I gave her a container to take home. She was so happy. Off she went to pick up one of the Tinies, (there are two), at school. She pulled up and got into the pick-up queue and waited. And waited. She figured she’d just look… because it’s not as though she had a plastic fork or anything else. Then she just wanted to taste it. Just a taste. So she did. Then she wanted more. So with her fingers she ate the casserole. All of it. And then, she said when she was finished, she threw her head back and drank the juice straight out of the container. In the pick-up line. We laughed and laughed. And, by the way, I AM leaving the house tonight in my ugly outfit to go to class so don’t look too closely. Okay. I’m leaving for class and I changed from sweatshirt to a stylish UNC fleece hoodie, lost the socks and the mocs and have on running shoes and all my jewelry. Perfect lipstick is in place. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
Tomato, Zucchini and Potato Casserole
- approximately 20 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
- 6 or 7 medium redskin potatoes, sliced 1/8″ thick
- 5 or 6 zucchini or yellow squash or combination of both
- 2 or 3 onions, peeled and sliced in 1/8″ thick quarters (peel, half lengthwise, half again lengthwise without cutting through root end and slice away!)
- 16 oz. cheese, shredded or crumbled
- roughly 3 tablespoons dried oregano or herb of your choice
- 1/4-1/2 cup good olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350°
- Coat a 9″X13″ dish or pan with nonstick spray and using 1/2 of ingredients, lay down a layer of potatoes, if you’re using them. If not, start with 1/2 of the squash. Scatter salt and pepper, then continue layering with 1/2 of the onions, then tomatoes, cheese and herbs.
- Drizzle with 1/2 of olive oil and continue layering other half ending with tomatoes, cheese and herbs. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 45 minutes ’til golden and bubbly. I sound just like Dolly. You can half this recipe and freeze the other one. To bake the casserole frozen, put it in a cold oven, covered with tin foil and bake an extra half hour. The last 10-15 minutes remove foil to brown.