First of all, I have to say a big thank you to my cousin Anna for giving my blog a new look! I knew I wanted something new and fun, but to be honest I didn't really know what else. So with very little direction Anna came up with a new, fantastic header! I think she did a wonderful job. I know I never could have done it on my own, so thanks Anna! Now on to this yummy cheesy vegetable dish.
This recipe comes from the cookbook Giada at Home by Giada De Laurentiis, a really fun cookbook. In it she says that this dish is the biggest hit of any recipe she's made for her TV show, everyone just loves it. Since I have yet to make a Giada recipe I don't like, I knew it was bound to be good. It is a very simple recipe, but it does take some time to assemble all of the components. All you need are vegetables, marinara, cheese and breadcrumbs, that's basically it. Layer it all up like a lasagna and stick it in the oven. The smell emanating from the oven while this dish cooking was fantastic, a mix of peppers, cheese, toasting bread and tomato sauce. It was like I apparated to Italy!
I started out by whipping together a quick and simple marinara sauce, but canned is good too if you don't have the time (or desire) to make your own. While that cooked I cut and prepped the vegetables for grilling. The slightly smoky flavor that comes from grilling was really yummy, but if you don't have a grill pan I'm sure you could roast the veggies in the oven instead. After that it was just a matter of layering all the ingredients.
Since I already had onions, and didn't feel like going out to buy fennel, that's what I used and it turned out really nice. I would probably cut the onion a little thinner next time to make sure it cooked through, but it wasn't a big deal. The peppers added really nice flavor, while the eggplant contributed a great contrasting texture. I think summer squash would work really well too. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand at the moment, or just use your favorite. Whatever you choose, it's bound to be delicious!
The eggplant was so pretty I had to take a picture
All the vegetables cut up and ready for grilling
After the grilling, they got some nice grill marks
Start the layering, first sauce and then eggplant
Some cheese is next
Then the peppers
Cheese and then onions
The rest of the sauce
And finally the rest of the cheese
Cover in bread crumbs, drizzle with olive oil, and bake
Crusty and golden, your house will smell like an Italian restaurant, I promise
From Giada at Home
- Butter, for greasing
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces ( I used onions instead)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thirds
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thirds
- 1 orange bell pepper, cut into thirds
- 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
Put a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish.
Drizzle the eggplant slices, fennel slices and peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes each side until softened.
Spoon 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange the peppers in a single layer on top. Spoon 3/4 cup of marinara sauce over the peppers. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange the fennel on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Scatter the bread crumbs over the cheese and drizzle liberally with oil. Bake until the top is golden and forms a crust, about 30 to 35 minutes
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Note: The vegetables can also be baked in a 375 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until softened.