Holiday veggies deserve a bit of wow factor. So if it falls to you to bring a festive side, may we suggest you think outside the bean? Homely traditions aside, there are some fabulous alternatives (with nary a can of “cream-of” soup) to add a bit of panache to a holiday menu.
Warm gooey goat cheese melted with tender yellow squash, sweet red peppers and slow-roasted Roma tomatoes is sure to elicit oohs and ahhs—if not thunderous applause.
Roast the tomatoes the night before. Oh, and you may want add to a few extra, as the intoxicating aroma filling your home will beg a taste or two.
Squash, Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Gratin
6 Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt, cracked black pepper
4 yellow squash
1 red bell pepper
1 cup day-old bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup fresh mozzarella, grated
Juice of 1/2 lemon
12 fresh basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place sliced tomatoes cut-side up. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Roast for 2 1/2 hours; set aside and cool. (Can be done a day ahead.)
For casserole, heat oven to 350˚F degrees.
Dice squash, zucchini and red pepper and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Season with salt and pepper and microwave for 5 minutes. Toss and cook for 3 minutes more, or until tender. Remove from microwave and slightly mash with a potato masher.
As vegetables cook, toast the breadcrumbs in butter over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet; remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add the beaten egg, cream and cumin. Stir in vegetables, bread crumbs, goat cheese and mozzarella, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with lemon juice, top with roasted tomatoes and scatter with fresh basil leaves.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and increase heat to 450˚F until topping is golden and bubbly.