Au­tumn Veg­etable Stratta with olives

I like this recipe be­cause it’s moist and not too sweet. In fact, you could leave out the sugar al­to­gether if you wish.

The Taos News - - IN THE KITCHEN -

A pound of baby car­rots (prefer­ably mixed col­ors, if avail­able)

2 large sweet pota­toes, peeled and cut into chunks

6 baby turnips, peeled and cut in half

1 large fen­nel bulb, trimmed of fronds, washed well

1 pound bag frozen pearl onions

1/2 cup drained pit­ted Kala­mata olives

1 zuc­chini, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brush­ing

1 ta­ble­spoon finely chopped gar­lic

1 ta­ble­spoon chopped fresh thyme, plus sev­eral whole thyme sprigs salt and freshly ground pep­per to taste

Pre­heat oven to 450 de­grees.

Us­ing a large bowl, sep­a­rately toss each of the veg­eta­bles (ex­cept the zuc­chini and the olives) with some olive oil and a bit of gar­lic. Set on a large roast­ing pan sep­a­rately to roast. Roast for 15 min­utes, turn and roast for 10-15 min­utes more. The veg­eta­bles should be ten­der and lightly browned.

Loosely layer the veg­eta­bles in a large bak­ing dish, be­gin­ning with the fen­nel and the sweet pota­toes, and ad­ding the turnips and the pearl onions. Ar­range the zuc­chini slices over the top, and brush the top with a lit­tle olive oil. Evenly sprin­kle with the olives. If mak­ing ahead, cover with foil.

If cook­ing right away, re­turn un­cov­ered to the oven and cook for 10-15 min­utes un­til the top of the veg­eta­bles are nicely browned.

If mak­ing ahead, re­move from re­frig­er­a­tor for a cou­ple of hours to come to room tem­per­a­ture. Place cov­ered in a pre­heated 350-de­gree oven. Cook for 15 min­utes cov­ered, and 15-20 min­utes un­cov­ered.

Make 6 gen­er­ous serv­ings with left­overs.

1-1/2 cups yel­low corn­meal (prefer­ably coarse)

3/4 cups (plus 1 ta­ble­spoon un­bleached flour for high al­ti­tude)

3/4 tea­spoon salt

2 tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der

1 ta­ble­spoon sugar (op­tional)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup but­ter­milk (*see note)

1 cup milk

3 ta­ble­spoons melted un­salted but­ter

Pre­heat oven to 375 de­grees. But­ter a square glass bak­ing dish.

In a large bowl, stir to­gether the corn­meal, flour, salt and bak­ing pow­der. In a sep­a­rate medium bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar if us­ing. Then add the but­ter­milk and the milk and beat well to thor­oughly com­bine.

(*Note: If you don’t have but­ter­milk, use an­other half cup milk com­bined with 1 ta­ble­spoon lemon juice. Al­low to cur­dle, then add to bat­ter.)

Add the liq­uid in­gre­di­ents to the dry in­gre­di­ents and stir un­til just moist­ened. Stir in the melted but­ter un­til well in­cor­po­rated. Us­ing a rub­ber spat­ula, scrape the bat­ter into the pre­pared bak­ing dish. Bake about 25 min­utes, un­til a tooth­pick in­serted in the cen­ter comes out clean. Re­move pan from oven and set on a cool­ing rack. Al­low to cool for ten min­utes. Makes 8-12 serv­ings.

If us­ing for stuff­ing, turn the corn­bread onto a large board. With a chef’s knife, cut the bread into tiny cubes. Spread the cubes and any crumbs onto a bak­ing sheet and al­low to cool and air dry for at least 2 hour or overnight. Then pre­pare the stuff­ing, or store the dried corn­bread cubes in a plas­tic bag for up to 2 days.

While a stratta usu­ally in­cludes eggs, this di­vine au­tumn ver­sion is made of lay­ers of sweet pota­toes, fen­nel, onions and baby turnips. Ac­cented with olive oil, gar­lic and thyme, and gar­nished with pit­ted Kala­mata olives.

Try a fig tart with an orange cus­tard as a sec­ond, more mem­o­rable dessert ad­di­tion to the tra­di­tional pump­kin pie.

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