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Monday, February 11, 2013

Creamy Potato & Eggplant Bake

Mary had a casserole, and it was full of peas...

I love casseroles.  They're the essence of comfort food.  And potatoes!  The King of comfort food!  It has literally snowed non-stop here in Michigan, pretty much for the last hundred days or so (OK, if you round up to the nearest hundred).  So comfort food is a necessity.  Clearly.

There's a contest going on at Taste of Home, and the theme is potatoes.  I created this casserole with my sister Mary in mind.  She loves potatoes, and I was going home for a visit anyway, so I figured I'd do a little recipe testing at her house.  When I told her I was making a potato dish, she requested that peas be involved.  Since I'm pretty much the awesomest sister ever, I obliged.  Also, I love peas.

I absolutely love the flavor of the potatoes.  If eggplant isn't your thing, these potatoes would make an excellent side dish to accompany dinner.  The ranch adds a unique creaminess, and it's easier that creating my own sauce.  I was able to get vegan ranch at Meijer (think Wal-mart, but less evil), and it was cheaper than if I had bought it at the health food store.  I doesn't taste exactly how I remember "real" ranch, but the flavor is lovely nonetheless.  I'm also really digging the addition of the veggies to the potatoes.  They transform it from a side dish to an entree.  Peas, potatoes, mushrooms, oh my!

The casserole will take about an hour to make, but it's worth it.  I didn't have a large enough casserole dish, so I used two 2-quart casserole dishes.  If you use a 4-quart or larger dish or Dutch oven, you may need to increase the cook time.  This made a truck-load of food!  For the contest, I said it made 8 servings, but it's really "8 servings if you're not serving it with anything else and your guests have been food-deprived for 24 hours."

Of course, after Mary, myself, and our folks had a go at it (over the span of 2 days), this is all that's left:

I'm trying to talk myself into saving it for tomorrow.  Will power.

 3 lbs red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
1 large eggplant, about 1 1/2 lb, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tsp dried basil
15 oz. can sweet peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup ranch dressing (the brand I found was Organicville)
24 oz. jar prepared marinara sauce
8 oz. shredded mozzarella (I used Daiya- best vegan cheese ever!!!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Boil until potatoes are tender, about 25 min.
Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in a medium skillet for 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and basil, and cook 5 minutes more.
When potatoes are cooked through, drain and move them to a large mixing bowl.  Roughly mash the potatoes, leaving some chunks.  Generously season with salt and pepper.  To the potatoes, add peas, ranch, and sauteed veggies.  Stir to mix well.
In a 4-quart casserole dish (or 2 2-quart casserole dishes), coat the bottom of the dish with half of the marinara sauce.  Arrange a layer of eggplant over the sauce.  Fill the casserole dish with the potato mixture.  Top the potatoes with the remaining eggplant.  Pour the remaining sauce over the eggplant, and top it all off with the mozzarella.
Bake for 30 minutes.

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