When I came across this Turkish Summer Vegetable casserole, it looked delicious. So I tried it with my homegrown peppers, which turned out tasty.
This year peppers were the star in the garden. The harvest was abundant, and the size was very satisfying. This year, the varieties I grew were Ajvarski, Saber, and Chocolate peppers. They are all sweet with wonderful fresh flavors.
Prepare the Vegetables
In the summertime, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplants are the main season crops. First, dice them up, then give them a quick sautee in a bit of oil. Once they turn color, add some aromatic herbs such as basil, thyme, or oregano for extra flavor.
As for the spices, take your pick. However, keeping it simple gives a better chance for the vegetables to stand out. A dash of black pepper and paprika should be enough. Adding cumin or curry powder may be a good choice for those who enjoy more robust flavors.
The White sauce
When I was younger and child-free, I loved to spend time in the kitchen and experiment. Perfecting the classic bechamel sauce was one of the culinary experiences that made me feel like a chef. Don’t ask why it just did.
At mid-age and with four kids under my care, I try to find a shortcut to every beloved recipe. When it comes to the bechamel, instead of going through the usual steps, which seem to take forever, I mix everything cold before putting it on the stove to thicken. However, I do replace the flour with corn starch.
This recipe calls for chicken breast, but you can venture out and use ground beef or even fish. Feel free to use tofu, paneer, or even nothing for my vegetarian friends. The dish will turn out equally delicious.
Mix it up
What I love about this vegetable casserole most is its versatility. You can easily make it in the wintertime using seasonal vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and turnips. You can also eat it by itself with a piece of sourdough bread or add a side of grains. Some of our favorite side dishes are burghul wheat or basmati rice.
Let’s get to our recipe, shall we?
Turkish Vegetable Casserole
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite-size
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb pepper, diced
- 1 cup tomatoes, medium diced
- 1 summer squash, diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cups milk, cold
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup shredde cheese optional
Cook the veggies
- Pre-heat the oil in a shallow saute pan to brown the chicken. Once the chicken gets color, transfer it to a plate and set it aside.
- In the meantime, chop and dice all the vegetables.
- In the same pan, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Then add the onion and saute till translucent. Then add the vegetables one at a time. Stir with every addition.
- Once the veggies begin releasing their juices and softening, put back the chicken. Then season well with herbs and spices.
Make the sauce
- Mix the starch and milk well, then transfer to a saucepan. Over medium heat, continuously whisk till it thickens.
- At this point, add the butter and allow it to melt.
- Transfer the veggie and chicken to an oven-safe casserole dish, then top with the white sauce, finishing up with some shredded cheese.
- Bake at 400 till golden for about 20 minutes.
- Use ground beef instead of chicken.
- Make it vegetarian by using tofu or paneer.
- You can use it for winter vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower.