25 January 2016

Cheesy Veg Casserole

              A cheesy Veg Casserole with a fused Tricolor theme for our 24th BlogHop. Why fused? Well, aren't we all like that too!! The love of food has, since time immemorial, gone beyond boundaries and today we find so many fusion flavours around us, of not just the national, but international cuisines as well.. 
This dish is an ode to our ever-growing love for food...


Saffron/Red layer -
Olive oil - 1.5 tbsps
Cumin (Jeera seeds)  -1 tsp
Diced Carrots - 1/2 cup
Diced Red Bell Pepper - 1/2 cup
Diced Red Pumpkin (optional) - 1/4 cup
Tomatoes - 4 medium (Blanched and puréed)
Salt to taste
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Dried herbs / oregano - 1 tsp

Green layer -
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Chopped spinach - 1/2 cup
Spinach purée - 1/4 cup
Diced zucchini - 1/2 cup
Diced capsicum - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder to taste
Dried herbs / oregano - 1 tsp

White layer -
Olive oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Diced potatoes - 1 cup
Refined /Wheat flour - 2 tbsps
Milk - 1/4 cup
Cream - 1/4 cup (If you wish to keep it light, use 1/2 cup milk instead)
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder to taste
Garlic powder - 1/s tsp
Shredded cheese - 1/4 cup

Brown bread slices - 5-6
Grated cheese - 1 cup
Dried herbs
Olive oil

Method :

1. First, the saffron/red layer....Heat olive oil in a pan or wok. Season with cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the tomato purée. Add salt to taste and let cook till gravy starts to thicken. 

2. At this point, add the carrots, cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes or till carrots are semi-soft. Now add the red bell pepper and pumpkin, along with chili powder, cover-cook for 5-7 minutes, again till veggies are semi-soft. Check for salt and finally sprinkle the dried herbs. Give it a quick simmer, and remove. Keep aside.

3. We'll do the white layer last as the white sauce will thicken further when cooled. Let's prepare the green layer next. Heat olive oil in another pan. Add the zucchini along with salt and let cook for about 5 minutes. 
4. Follow it up with capsicum, chopped spinach, pepper powder, stir well and let cook for 5-7 minutes more. Finally add the spinach purée and dried herbs, check for salt and let cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and keep aside.

5. Now for the white layer, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the diced potatoes and a little salt, cover-cook till 3/4th done. Remove to a bowl so we can use the same pan for the white sauce. 

6. For the traditional roux, the flour is roasted in the fat, but to make it easier, I whisk it along with the milk. Heat oil in the pan, keep heat on low and add the milk-flour mixture. Quickly stir to avoid lumps, add in salt, garlic powder and pepper powder and keep stirring. As the sauce starts to thicken, add in the cream, stirring all the time. (If you are not using cream, add in the entire 1/2 cup milk with the flour). 

7. Add in the cooked potatoes and let simmer for 2-3 minutes more. Turn off the flame. Finally add in the shredded cheese and dried herbs, stir again till cheese mixes well with the sauce. Keep aside.

8. Now for the assembling. In a baking dish, arrange the brown bread slices to cover the entire base. (The idea behind using the bread is that it gives the dish an unofficial crust, plus it soaks up the excess moisture and prevents the layers from running over each other too much)

9. Gently pour the green layer mix over the slices and spread it out evenly. Follow it up with the white sauce layer. Spread carefully so as to not disturb the green layer underneath. Now finally, the red layer (drain out any excess gravy water before adding to baking dish). Spread out again carefully. 

10. Sprinkle cheese generously, along with dried herbs. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 deg C for about 15 minutes (or 7-8 minutes in a microwave) till cheese turns golden brown. 
Remove, let cool a little. Drizzle olive oil over the baked casserole. Cut into wedges and serve.