Ital­ian squash bake brings Mediter­ranean flair to din­ner

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FOOD - By Melissa D’Ara­bian

This week’s Ital­ian squash bake is a true work horse. Want an easy, makea­head week­night side dish? This will do the trick. Host­ing both veg­e­tar­i­ans and meat eaters for din­ner? Serve Ital­ian squash bake along with grilled chicken or fish on the side for the car­ni­vores, and you’ll be all set.

Since the recipe is quite flex­i­ble, you can eas­ily make as much or as lit­tle as you need. The col­ors of the veg­etable slices are pretty, jux­ta­posed against one an­other, mak­ing this a com­pany-wor­thy recipe with zero last-minute prep.

A quick note to par­ents: Once you’ve sliced up the veg­gies, let your lit­tle ones do the lay­er­ing — it’s a great way to in­clude them in the veg­etable cook­ery of din­ner­time. And you al­most can’t mess this up, aside from the aes­thet­ics.

My daugh­ter, who loves to help me make this, even con­sid­ers it a (light­ened-up) ver­sion of lasagna. She’s ac­tu­ally not too far off. This Mediter­ranean-style squash bake is in­spired by a tian, which is a Provençal dish named af­ter the earth­en­ware bak­ing ves­sel tra­di­tion­ally used to make it. A tian typ­i­cally is loaded with veg­gies, and then is of­ten topped with lamb or salty pork.

My squash ver­sion gets its fla­vor from calo­rie-free herbs, lemon juice and gar­lic cloves in­stead, plus just enough sat­is­fy­ing fat from a light dust­ing of cheese added in the fi­nal stages of bak­ing. Since squash only packs in about 10 calo­ries in a half-cup serv­ing (and sur­pris­ingly only about a gram of sugar), a lit­tle cheese is the per­fect touch of com­fort. Bring­ing Mediter­ranean flair to your week­night cook­ing rou­tine might be just the thing your au­tumn needs.

ITAL­IAN SQUASH BAKE

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour Servings: 4

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

1 medium-large zucchini, sliced

1 medium-large yel­low crook­neck squash, sliced 2 large shal­lots, sliced 2 toma­toes, sliced (halve slices into half-moons if too large) 5-10 gar­lic cloves 2 tea­spoons dried Ital­ian herb sea­son­ing 1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil juice of ½ lemon

½ cup shred­ded moz­zarella or parme­san cheese, or mixed

salt and pep­per

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Pre­heat oven to 375 F. Spray an 8-inch earth­en­ware or reg­u­lar bak­ing dish with non­stick cook­ing spray. Sea­son the veg­eta­bles with a lit­tle salt and pep­per.

Layer the squash, tomato and shal­lot slices “shin­gle style” in the dish, al­ter­nat­ing

veg­eta­bles. Don’t hes­i­tate to pack the veg­eta­bles in fairly tightly; the slices should not lay com­pletely flat.

Once the veg­eta­bles are all snug­gly in the bak­ing dish, sprin­kle on the gar­lic cloves, and dried herbs. Driz­zle on the olive oil and

squeeze on the lemon juice. Cover with foil and bake for a half hour.

Re­move the foil and con­tinue bak­ing for an ad­di­tional half hour, sprin­kling the cheese on top the last 15 min­utes (for a to­tal bake time of about an hour.) Serve warm or room tem­per­a­ture. NOTE: This recipe is very flex­i­ble and can be scaled up or down.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 123 calo­ries; 58 calo­ries from fat; 6 g fat (2 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 8 mg choles­terol; 259 mg sodium; 12 g car­bo­hy­drate; 3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 7 g pro­tein.

Food Net­work star Melissa d’Ara­bian is an ex­pert on healthy eat­ing on a bud­get. She is the au­thor of the cook­book “Su­per­mar­ket Healthy.”

On­line: http://www.melis­sadara­bian.net

MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN VIA AP

This photo shows an Ital­ian squash bake in Coron­ado This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d’Ara­bian.

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