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.
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.