Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Notes from Nikki-Inverbrook Summer Casserole

I was just sitting down at my computer to search recipes for baby eggplant and peppers when much to my delight Nikki had come up with the perfect recipe for this week's share.  As she mentioned the summer produce is just starting to trickle in--soon you all will be getting larger quantities of peppers and bigger eggplant--in the meantime this casserole is the just the solution to using up this week's share. Enjoy.
Photo by Kiah Graham

Inverbrook Summer Casserole
The following recipe was one of those last-minute/what-can-I-throw-together-tonight meals. I had a mish-mosh of fresh farm ingredients (2 small eggplants, 2 small sweet peppers, a few small patty pan squash, a couple of pounds of Dr Elkins Angus Burger, etc), but not enough of any one thing to showcase. Then it hit me, I've got to make a casserole, of course! :-) And since just about all of the ingredients came from Inverbrook, I had to dub it Inverbrook Summer Casserole. I made enough to serve 8-10 people, but the recipe could easily be cut in half. It also saves well, if you find leftovers appealing. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

2 lbs grass fed ground beef (Dr. Elkins is the tastiest and it's local. :-))
4-6 C + steamed rice (I used basmati because I had it on hand. Feel free to use whatever is appealing.)
Glug of olive oil
2 small, long, skinny eggplant, chopped
3-4 smallish pattypan squash, chopped
2 small green bell peppers, chopped
2 long, skinny sweet red peppers, chopped
4-6 small-medium tomatoes, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-4 large cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
Generous handful or two of lemon basil leaves, torn or chopped (Any type of basil will do, I just love lemon basil for it's ability to brighten a dish.)
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1-2 C shredded parmigiano reggiano, plus more for passing at the table (There can never be enough cheese, in my opinion. ;-))

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat along with some sea salt and fresh ground pepper until cooked through. Set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute until the onions soften.
4. Add the eggplant to the mix and saute until the eggplant just starts to soften.
5. Add the squash to the pan and continue sauteing until the squash is still firm, but starting to get tender.
6. Add the tomatoes and peppers to the mix and simmer until the tomatoes break down.
7. Season the lot with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
8. Kill the heat and stir in the basil.
8. Mix the vegetables together with the rice and the ground beef. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Use more rice for a dryer casserole, less if you don't mind it juicy. You want enough so that it will hold together at least marginally though, or it will feel more like a stew.
9. Spread the mixture into a large casserole pan and top with the parmesan cheese. Don't be shy. ;-)
10. Bake uncovered until bubbling and golden brown on top (about 20-25 minutes or so).
11. Allow to cool and set for a bit before serving.

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