Posted by: A Part of the Solution | September 26, 2010

A Vegetable Casserole

It’s not a title for the ages, I grant you that. It doesn’t initiate salivation processes just reading the words. It isn’t a recipe to excite the gourmets or thrill the cognoscenti. It is a vegetable casserole.

It is almost infinitely variable in its makeup and constituent ingredients. It is a vegetable casserole which one may be proud to place on the table. It is a vegetable casserole one will make again and again without fear of its being  pooh-poohed.

Why do I hail it here in my blog? What makes this vegetable casserole unlike all other vegetable casseroles? When is a recipe like this one most useful? And how can I expect normal people with regular lives to be able to produce such a paragon of gustatory delight?

It uses potatoes, lots of potatoes. This is the first step to being a successful one-dish dinner. It uses seasonal veggies–but it’s flexible about which ones. This is a sure-fire plus in a busy household when extra trips to the grocery store are easily transformed into those straws which might well break a hard-working camel’s back. It encourages the consumption of moderate volumes of protein. This makes it flexible enough to become a side dish, as well as maintaining its status as a feasible one-dish dinner.

The following recipe is more an explication of casserole theory than it is a stand-alone recipe–with it you may make infinite variations on the theme of the hot dinner. Items in parentheses are optional–use ’em if you like ’em. Use ’em if you’ve got ’em. Use ’em if you’ve got time to prep ’em.

A Vegetable Casserole

3 lbs of potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly

4 TBSP oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped

(1 bell pepper, any color, chopped)

(3 cloves garlic, minced)

4 cups sliced cabbage OR seeded sliced summer squash/zucchini OR broccoli florets OR green beans

1/2 lb sausage OR lima beans OR ground beef OR sliced seitan

(5 hot peppers, seeded and chopped)

1 cup grated jack cheese OR cheddar OR Gruyère OR Parmesan OR a combination OR what you have around OR no cheese at all but 4 TBSP nutritional yeast

2 TBSP flour OR 1 TBSP cornstarch

2 1/2 cups milk OR stock OR tomato juice OR a combination

Salt and pepper to taste, maybe some nutmeg–or fresh thyme or flat leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 9×13 pan. Heat 1 TBSP oil in a large frying pan. Cook the onion and optional bell pepper and optional garlic until the onion is translucent, set the veggies aside. Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan. Whisk in the flour (or skip the rest of the oil, heat the liquid and add the cornstarch, stirring ’til thickened). Once the flour-fat combination is grainy looking, pour in the liquid and stir until it thickens. Season it heavily with salt and pepper and nutmeg (if using) and or other fresh herbs.

In the 9×13, put half the sliced potatoes with half the onion mixture and half the other main veggie (cabbage or squash or beans or broccoli) with half the protein component with half the cheese or nutritional yeast with half the hot peppers if using. Repeat the layers. Pour the thickened liquid over the top. Cover with tented aluminum foil and bake for an hour. Uncover and bake for thirty more minutes. Allow to cool for ten to fifteen minutes and serve. This doubles and quadruples nicely to feed large crowds.



  1. I think you should write a book called Casserole Theory!

    • Why thank you. I’ll put that on the list of things I want to get done. Sometimes a theory is so much better than a recipe.

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