Casser-ol-me-o -OR- Summer squash and carrot casserole

Oh my. Do I love to make and eat casseroles. I seriously get pleasure out of making anything that goes into a baking dish.

I think one of the reasons I like casseroles so much is because they fall into the same category of soups and stir-fry's. You know, the "everything but the kitchen sink, I don't need no recipe" type of cooking.

I don't know if most of you think casseroles fall into this category or not, but they easily can. You just need to know the basics. Or at least what I consider to be the basics. Well, what I consider to be the basics for a vegetable based casserole!

First, survey the fridge for vegetables. I always start by sauteing an onion and few cloves of garlic. Once the onions have softened I add 3-4 cups of other vegetables and cook for a few more minutes. Anything will work really, squash, mushrooms, carrots (grated), peppers. You name it, you can put it in.

Next you just need to make sure you have some sort glue to hold it all together. I typically choose eggs and cheese. In general, I use one scrambled egg, a quarter to half cup of ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, or mashed up tofu and a half to full cup of shredded cheese. Mix all these together then add in your sauteed veggies.

The last must-have for a casserole (at least in my world) are bread crumbs. Look around on the Internet and people put in everything from wonder white bread slices to rye bread to week old baguettes. Okay, so maybe I am the only one who uses week old, rock hard baguettes. If you are using bread that is rock hard just cut it up into large chunks and soak it in some water, then squeeze out the excess water, and tear it up into small bits. No matter what type of bread crumbs you use, you want to use about a cup of them, and to mix it into the bowl with the glue and veggies.

Next you just press this whole mess into a greased baking dish (what size really just depends on how much you made). The finishing touches for me include about a quarter cup of shredded cheese on top and more bread or cracker crumbs (not so sure the water logged bread crumbs would work here.

Throw it all in the oven at 400 degrees F for about an hour, or until it starts to turn brown along all the edge and the top.

So there you go. You too can now be a casserole making fool!

Oh, you still want a recipe you say because this is like supposed to be a food blog you say?

I would be happy to oblige you dear readers. Coincidentally, I just happened to make a pretty darn good casserole last night.

Summer Squash and Carrot Casserole
serves 4

This recipe is really basic, like most casseroles. It is a really good way to use up all that squash some of you seem to be complaining about. And it tastes darn good. I don't include any salt in this recipe because I think the cheeses are plenty salty on their own.

1 Tbs. butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 zucchini or yellow squash, quartered and diced
3 carrots, grated
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 egg, scrambled
1/4 c. cottage cheese
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 of a baguette, torn or cut into small pieces
1/4 c. Parmesan, grated (optional)
6 crackers (optional)
butter or oil to grease the baking dish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x9 inch baking dish with butter or olive oil.

Saute the onion and garlic in the tablespoon of butter or olive oil for a few minutes, until they just start to turn translucent. Then add the pepper and cumin and cook for another minute. Then add in the squash and carrots and cook for about another five minutes, remove it from the heat, and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes.

While your vegetables are sauteing scramble the egg and the cottage cheese together in a large bowl. Once your vegetable mixture has cooled a bit add it to the bowl and stir it until the egg and cheese mixture covers everything. Then add in your bread crumbs and shredded cheese and stir it again.

Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and even out the top with a spoon. Then sprinkle the Parmesan and crackers (crushed by hand) over the top.

Place it in the oven and bake it for about an hour, until the top and sides are brown.


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