Not your mama’s casserole

The other night I was in the mood for something a little different. I was craving color. Do you ever get that? The urge to eat a specific food, or a specific color. I guess I was feeling that my food had been too monochromatic lately and I wanted something a little more vibrant. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. I’ve recently discovered the Star Wars movies, and I was excited to see Return of the Jedi. Yes, I know it’s odd that I’m 30 years old, and until a month ago, had never seen any part of the trilogy.

Back to dinner. Don’t you ever want to throw all the ingredients into a pan and have it all magically cook itself? Me too! And that is more or less what I did with this meal. Maybe I shall call it colorful cooks-itself casserole. Yet, I usually picture casseroles to be these gross, rather shapeless dishes containing gelatinous, unidentifiable food. Like something from Better Off Dead. Do you remember that movie?

I had a notion of combining all of these ingredients into a dish and baking it. This way, I was free to start the movie while dinner was cooking. Then, I could easily serve and eat dinner without too much difficulty. It was a grand discovery and a great movie, if not a little dated. The quick meal allowed me more time to focus on The Force.


Vegetable Casserole
Serves 4
2 large sweet potatoes
1 red potato
bunch of collard greens
1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated
1/4 c. bread crumbs
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Wash potatoes and slice in circles.
3. Place in bowl, cover loosely with paper towel and microwave for approximately 5 minutes, until halfway cooked.
4. Meanwhile, wash collard greens and cut in small pieces.
5. Thinly slice tofu crosswise, into slabs.

tofu slabs

6. Lightly coat bottom of large casserole dish with olive oil.
7. When potatoes come out of microwave, cover bottom of dish, alternating between sweet and red potatoes. Be careful, they’re hot!

Potato layer
8. Place slices of tofu over potatoes.
9. Cover dish with chopped collard greens.
10. Season greens generously with salt. I especially like using sea salt.
11. Cover greens with slices of mozzarella cheese.
12. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and generous quantity of parsley to cover top.
13. Season with salt & pepper.
14. Cover with aluminum foil.
15. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes or so, until top begins to brown.




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