An easy summer casserole that's packed with grilled seasonal vegetables
Course Main Course
Keyword mediterranean diet, vegetarian
Prep Time 30minutes
Cook Time 30minutes
Author Craving Something Healthy
1mediumeggplantpeeled if desired, and cut into round 3/4" slices
1mediumzucchinicut lengthwise into 3/4" strips
1largered peppercut in half and seeds, core removed
2mediumPortobello mushroom caps
1 1/2teaspoonsItalian seasoning mixdivided
12ouncesprepared or homemade tomato sauce
8 fresh basil leavesmore or less to taste, sliced thin
3/4cupshredded mozzarella cheesedivided
1/4cupgrated Parmesan cheese
Put the eggplant slices in a colander, and sprinkle/toss with the salt. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes, or until they give up some of their liquid.
When the eggplant is almost ready, heat the grill to medium-high, and slightly spray the grill racks.
Add the eggplant, zucchini slices, red pepper, and mushrooms to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning herb mix, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the vegetables, and toss lightly to coat.
Place the vegetables on the hot grill, and grill them for about 4 minutes on each side, or until they're softened and have grill marks. I like to grill my red peppers until they blacken in spots so the skins peel off. This is optional.
Remove the cooked vegetables from the grill, and place them back into the mixing bowl to let them cool. If desired, pull the blackened skins off the red peppers. Slice the red pepper and mushrooms into strips.
Heat the oven to 350°F
In an 8" x 8" baking pan or casserole dish, spread about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce. Add one layer of the vegetables on top of the sauce. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the fresh basil leaves over half of the mozzarella cheese. Top with another 1/4 cup of tomato sauce. Add a second layer of vegetables, another 1/3 of the fresh basil leaves, and the nearly the rest of the mozzarella cheese. I like to save about 1 handful of mozzarella for the topping.Spoon or spread the rest of the sauce over the casserole.
In a small bowl, combine any remaining mozzarella cheese, the Panko, the 1/4 of Parmesan cheese, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning mix, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss well to combine.
Sprinkle the cheese/Panko blend over the top of the casserole. Cover it lightly with foil, and bake for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted throughout. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes so the Panko can crisp. If a crispier topping is desired, turn on the broiler and move the casserole to the top rack for about 30 seconds - make sure it doesn't burn!
Garnish with the remaining 1/3 of the fresh basil leaves. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
The vegetables can be grilled well in advance if desired. Keep them in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.