I hope some of you will be in Atlanta on April 30 for the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show. I'll be there with my bib on, drooling over my Italian culinary goddess, Giada De Laurentiis from whom I shamelessly stole the following fabulous recipe. (Don't tell her, okay?) I've done a little tweaking and it's been a big hit everywhere I've served it.
CASSERUOLA DI VERDURA DI POMODORO
(Tomato Vegetable Casserole)
1 potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 carrots, peeled and cut into cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tomatoes cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Lightly oil a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with olive oil. Evenly spread the potato and yam slices in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil, then lightly season with salt and pepper. Arrange another layer with the bell pepper and carrots and repeat the oil, salt and pepper.
Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini slices over the onion. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.
Blend the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over the top layer of tomatoes. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender and the Parmesan bread crumb topping begins to turn a golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add the mozzarella and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Watch to make sure the mozzarella melts and browns but does not burn. Serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8
As always, I advocate using the best fresh ingredients available. Fresh vegetables go without saying. You can get by with store-bought bread crumbs, but fresh are better. (I've got a great recipe for fresh Italian bread crumbs elsewhere on this site.) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper are my seasonings of choice, but regular salt and pepper will work. Extra-virgin olive oil, of course. I highly recommend that you don't cheap up on the cheese. You'll be amazed at the flavor difference between fresh mozzarella and the waxy part-skim stuff that comes in bags or blocks. And we won't even mention the nasty crap in a green can that tries to pass itself off as Parmesan cheese, will we? If you can't find or afford Parmigiano-Reggiano, at least use a good domestic Parmesan.