I started going through the fridge and pulling out a little bit of this, a little bit of that. At first I had planned on doing a saute with zucchini and red bell peppers, but then I remembered a recipe that I had just torn out of a recent Food & Wine (Aug. 2010) magazine. It’s the type of dish that you really don’t need a recipe for, but I’ll go ahead and share it with you anyway. It’s the perfect side dish for grilled or roasted chicken and would make a wonderful dinner served with a big salad and some warm crusty bread.
Summer Vegetable Casserole
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 pound plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
2 small zucchini (1/2 pound), sliced 1/4″ thick
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigaino-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9″ baking dish with olive oil. Spread the potatoes in the dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine peppers, onion, garlic and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Arrange two thirds of the bell pepper mixture over the potatoes and drizzle with oil. Top with the tomatoes and zucchini, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with the remaining bell pepper mixture and sprinkle with the cheese.
Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 425 degrees. Uncover the casserole and bake for 20 minutes longer, until the vegetables are tender and glazed on top. Let stand 10 minutes, serve warm.
I just took another look at the article from Food & Wine and saw that the recipe came from a hotel in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The hotel is in the once abandoned town of Santo Stefano, that was purchased by a Swedish-Italian preservationist. This man is working with historians to revive ancient towns that have largely been abandoned. As I look at the photo in the article I am reminded of our first visit to Calitri (in Campania), the birthplace of my grandparents. At the time the old borgo was largely deserted and was just in the beginning stages of restoration. As we walked the streets of Calitri we peered into the old houses-many were basically hovels, carved into the side of a hill. My heart was heavy as I imagined my grandmother living there as a young girl. There’s been a massive restoration project during the past years and I look forward to going back and staying in one of those homes, maybe on the very block where my grandparents were born.