This Italian Vegetable Casserole is a hearty and healthy main course dish that will satisfy even the pickiest of vegetable eaters! So cheesy and flavorful!
Zucchini and eggplant star in this Italian Vegetable Casserole that features a homemade tomato basil sauce. Its rich, filling, delicious and easy on the carbs!
We love pasta in our house…way too much! I think we could eat it every night. But I prefer to save my carbs for dessert or wine, so I’ve been trying to cut back on the pasta.
One night, I threw together a creamy tomato sauce with the few groceries that were in the house. We had spinach and basil, some leftover ground meat and elbow pasta, so in it went. For a quickly thrown together meal, it was very yummy but I wanted to rework the recipe to make it healthier.
So, I decided to try it again without the pasta and add in more veggies. My healthy reward was an A for effort but a D for consistency. It turned out watery but still flavorful. Compromise was in order. All things in moderation, so, I added a little flour to the sauce and used a thin layer of bread on the bottom to soak up the veggie juices.
The result is an Italian Vegetable Casserole that is filling, low in carbs and loaded with protein, fiber and vitamins.
And as good as all that is, there are a bunch of bigger reasons I love this recipe.
- It’s one of those dinners you can stick in the oven and do all the messy cleanup while it’s baking.
- You really don’t need a side dish (but if you insist on having one, go for a salad because this dish is so filling).
- It reheats really well so its great for lunch the next day too!
- You can make this dish vegetarian just by changing out the meat to a veggie sausage or omitting the meat entirely.
- You don’t have to have tomato sauce on hand because the sauce is made from scratch.
- Thinking ahead, if you’re like me and have an heirloom vegetable garden, this is a great way to use the prolific quantities of zucchini and eggplant that will soon be growing!
I think you and your family will love this Italian Vegetable Casserole as much as we do! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe. Snap a pic and tag us on Twitter @theVintageKitty or Instagram @vintagekittyblog or leave a comment below. Thanks!
- 1 loaf of Italian bread
- 2 TB butter
- 1/2 lb of loose Italian sausage or ground beef
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 28 oz can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 6 oz spinach washed and dried in a salad spinner
- 1/3 cup basil chopped
- 1 1/2 TB AP flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 small zucchini
- 1 to 2 Japanese eggplants
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese grated
- 10 oz mozzarella cheese grated
Preheat oven to 350F
Trim the crust of the bread off and set aside the rest of the loaf.
Pulse bread crust in a food processor to make breadcrumbs.
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add about 2 cups of the breadcrumbs to melted butter and stir to coat crumbs with butter.
Remove breadcrumbs from the pan and set aside.
Slice the remaining bread into thin slices (about 1/2-3/4 inch thick) and toast bread.
Lightly oil a lasagna pan and then line the bottom with toasted bread.
Over medium heat, cook the sausage.
Remove cooked sausage, leaving behind the pan drippings.
Sauté diced onions in the sausage drippings until golden (If you omit the sausage for a vegetarian dish, use about a tablespoon of oil or butter).
Add Italian seasoning and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant.
Throw in the tomatoes and red wine and bring to a gentle simmer.
Combine the heavy cream and flour in a jar and shake to combine.
Add the cream mixture to the sauce and cook until sauce thickens, stirring frequently.
Add in the spinach and cook just until spinach wilts ( Using tongs to fold in spinach may be helpful).
Turn off the heat, stir in the basil and cooked sausage into the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cover the bread with about half of the sauce
Slice zucchini and eggplant into thin rounds and layer in the pan, alternating slices of eggplant and zucchini.
Top vegetables with remaining sauce.
Mix the two cheeses together and layer on top of sauce.
Finally add breadcrumbs.
Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and the top of casserole is a browned.
Depending on the size of your loaf of bread, you may not need the whole thing.
To make this dish vegetarian either substitute sausage with vegetarian sausage, or omit the meat completely and use vegetable oil to saute the onions and garlic.
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