Summer-to-Fall Veggie Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cooked and ‘noodled’ (If you don’t know how to cook and/or ‘noodle’ a spaghetti squash, you can find my directions for doing so here.  (Just be sure to follow the first six steps only; then come back here to carry on with this recipe.)
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1/4 cup soymilk (see note below)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes (If the tomatoes are on the large side, cut any big ones in half)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into thin half-moons
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried basil flakes
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  (If you just cooked your spaghetti squash, your oven will already be nice and hot at 350 degrees.)
  • In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, and soymilk; stir well, then set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  (About 2 minutes.)
  • Once the oil is hot, add the tomatoes, and sauté them 4-5 minutes (until they are semi ‘broken-down’).
  • Add the garlic to the tomatoes and oil, and sauté for an additional minute.
  • Once the tomatoes and garlic are done cooking, add them to the cheese/milk mixture.
  • Add the remaining ingredients (zucchini, basil, noodled spaghetti squash) to the tomato/cheese mixture; stir gently, but do try to combine all of the ingredients well.
  • Transfer the mixed ingredients to a 9”x11” glass dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Top with the bread crumbs.  Cover with tin foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the tin foil, and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes, or until the bread crumbs have browned and the overall dish is bubbly.
  • Once removed from the oven, let the dish stand at least 10-15 minutes to firm up.  (This makes cutting into it a whole lot easier.)
  • Sprinkle individual servings with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Serve hot, and enjoy.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving (approximates): 125 calories, 4 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 7 g protein.

The casserole ingredients all mixed up, ready to go into the prepared pan.

The casserole topped with breadcrumbs, pre-baking.

The casserole, post-baking. (Clearly I need to learn how to 'evenly distribute' breadcrumbs! And/or reduce the quantity of breadcrumbs used altogether...)

The first serving.

My notes:

  • Soy milk is a bit thicker in consistency than skim milk, so I used soy milk for this recipe.  However, if you don’t like or can’t find soy milk, you can use skim milk instead; the casserole may just be a bit runny.  Or, you can use a higher-fat milk – but then be aware that the nutritional information provided will change slightly.

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Low.
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Low.
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): Medium-low.
Time Cost (recipe preparation): Medium – but a decent medium.
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Another decent medium.
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 3.89

The Bottom Line: Will I make this recipe again?

A few of my friends have vegetable gardens; and at this time of the year, several are finding themselves a bit overrun with zucchini, tomatoes, and the like.  As a result, I’ve been keeping an eye open for recipes that might be a good ‘use-up’ of these abundant resources.

Last week I saw a recipe for a “summer vegetable casserole”, which had loads of tomatoes and zucchini in the ingredients list.  Unfortunately, it also had loads of oil, thick cheeses, and heavy pasta – so it had loads of unnecessary calories and artery-clogging fats.  I decided to see if I could deliver the spirit of that recipe, but with a ‘lighter’ hand.  This dish is the result of my numerous, sometimes ‘radical’, changes.

While I suspect the original recipe was a sturdy casserole, this one turned out to be more of a goat cheese “mash” with a handful of really soft, mild veggies in the mix.  This might sound relatively disgusting, but it’s actually pretty good!  While I don’t think this casserole can serve as a main entree (it’s pretty rich due to the goat cheese, and not super-filling because of the ‘mash’ quality), I do think it can stand as a nice side dish to compliment a protein.  (My protein of choice was a soy-based “chick-n” cutlet; meat eaters may want to serve up their preferred animal.)  If I were to make this recipe again (and I might), I don’t think I will add any more tomatoes, but I do think the casserole can support a second whole zucchini.

As for the prep time involved in making this dish: If the spaghetti squash is already prepared, then the prep time isn’t bad at all.  But, if one has to bake the spaghetti squash, the prep time moves from “not bad” to “kind of a lot”.  Now, if you are of the pasta ilk, you could probably whip up a batch of thin spaghetti in a few minutes and bypass this issue altogether – but I’m guessing you might also lose the “mash” quality of the recipe (which might be another positive bonus to you, if you’re not a fan of mash…).  I am not a fervent adorer of pasta, so I’ll keep the recipe as-is.

Clean-up for this recipe was reasonable; certainly not as simple as a one-pot meal, but also not grueling.  I’d call the washing process very middle-of-the-road; very standard and average for a home-cooked meal.

As for the ultimate question of “would I make this recipe again?”: I’d say that I could see this being a once-a-summer offering.  It’s tasty, but even this lightened-up version is still pretty rich for me; I think I’ll enjoy it best as an occasional side dish to share with friends (or to bring to a potluck) – but not as a standard weekday meal.

So there you go.  Experimental success, in my book.  :)

Stef

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About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
This entry was posted in casserole, cheese, chevre, picture step-by-step, postaweek2011, summer squash, tomatoes, vegetables, vegetarian, zucchini and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Summer-to-Fall Veggie Casserole

  1. Hey Stef, that looks great!! YUM!

    Like

  2. Your rating system made me smile.

    Like

    • Stef says:

      I’m glad! These are all of the ‘big’ factors I consider when deciding if I’m going to make a recipe or not – because hey, let’s face it, I don’t want to spend five hours tending a meal that will take me 20 minutes to eat; nor do I want to spend that same amount of time on clean-up afterwards. :)

      Like

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