Life, style & food in the District
A simple and seasonal casserole for the last weeks of summer.
It’s that time of summer when the gardens are overflowing with produce like tomatoes, squash, zucchini and basil. For me, this time of year triggers memories of my mother’s garden and the simple and summery dishes she would create from our backyard harvest. Most of the time, these meals were devoured on the back porch with our swimsuits still on from a day spent at the pool.
This rustic panade (traditionally a Provencal casserole) incorporates the season’s freshest produce with thick, crusty bread and warm, salty Parmesan cheese. It’s easy to throw together and takes roughly an hour to bake in the oven—Which is the perfect amount of time to grab a glass of wine, sit on the porch and catch-up with friends and family.
2 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1 loaf of crunchy bread, sliced to fit and layer in a casserole dish – I used a Tuscan loaf
2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup plus 4 tbsp of mushroom broth – I used the Pacific Organics brand
1/2 lb of shaved Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400. In a pan, over medium heat, sauté the onion with 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil until the onion softens and is slightly translucent. Add in the zucchini and the garlic and continue to sauté until the zucchini is cooked (roughly 7-10 minutes). Add in a pinch of sea salt to taste and 4 tbsp of the mushroom broth. Continue to cook until the liquid cooks down, then remove the pan from heat.
In a buttered casserole dish, put down a layer of the bread, overlapping and cutting the slices to fit the dish. Next, add a layer of heirloom tomatoes and then a layer of the zucchini and onion mixture. Top the vegetable layers off with a generous layer of Parmesan cheese. Continue to layer the ingredients in this order. (I was able to do two complete layers.)
Once the final layer is complete, pour 1 cup of the mushroom broth over the casserole and push the ingredients down with a spatula. Cover the dish (with foil or a casserole cover) and bake for about an hour, until bubbly. After an hour, uncover the dish, add another layer of cheese, and continue to bake until the cheese and the top layer browns.
Serve and eat!