I love a good casserole; they’re often homey, comfort food, they’re quick and they’re delicious.  It’s true, I often fix big meals that have a protein, two veggies and a soup, or will spend 7 hours perfectly roasting a duck to crispy-skin heaven, but sometimes I just want to throw everything in one dish and be done. Finding dairy free casseroles is a little difficult and finding casseroles that are grain free can be too. After searching the internets I didn’t really find much that interested me in the “paleo” category and there wasn’t a lot else to choose from that was grain and dairy free. Then, I searched for vegetarian casseroles and found this one at “thecomfortofcooking.com“. It’s really amazing and hits all the homey comfort-food spots while still being a fairly fast casserole (with a mandolin slicer) and its paleo friendly without any alterations! I changed some of the quantities to made more of it (I should change the name of my blog to something about “leftovers”) but otherwise, it’s great as is. The photos of the food at thecomfortofcooking.com are fantastic too I should add, go check it out! I need to work on presentation….

Messy Ingredients:

  • 1 12 -14 oz jar GOOD pasta sauce, plain or with garlic/basil (you get out what you put in, don’t put in a 4$ sauce)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, finely minced (I slice mine paper-thin on the mandolin)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 skinny Chinese or Italian Eggplants, roughly the same diameter as the squash (if possible)
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 2 medium zucchini squash
  • 1-2 red bell peppers (sliced in rings)
  • thyme (fresh or dried)
  • kosher salt
  • parchment paper
  • pound of ground protein (optional)
  • goat cheese (optional)

Slice all the vegetables to about 1/16th or 1/8th of an inch thick, rounds (slightly thicker than paper-thin). I highly suggest using a mandolin or else this quick casserole suddenly won’t be so quick. Stack the sliced veggies into individual piles.

In a 9×13 casserole dish, or similar size oven-safe vessel, Mix the pasta sauce, olive oil, onion, garlic, oregano and pepper flakes together and spread evenly on bottom of dish. Layer the vegetables, alternating colors and overlapping in whatever arrangement is pleasing to your eye. The key is to cover the majority of the first slice with the second one, so the layer of veggies will be quite thick. If you’re in a hurry and not worried about the presentation, just put all the slices down on top in an even layer. One of the wonderful things about this dish is how vibrant it is! Sprinkle with salt and thyme (to taste), spray evenly with olive oil and cover with parchment paper cut to fit the dish, lying flat on top of the vegetables. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes. Allow to cool a little and serve!

To make this a heartier dish than it already is, brown a pound of ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork or sausage and mix it into the pasta sauce before arranging vegetables and baking. Top with some crumbled goat cheese (if not avoiding dairy) before serving! This one is a WINNER!

*You may have some leftover slices of vegetables at the end. I either put them in a ziplock to use in salads later or just try to incorporate them into the pattern (see my photo with odd stripes of zucchini and random bell pepper rings).

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