I was a fussy eater growing up and never really got enough vegetables in my diet. Now, when I look back, I realize what I missed as vegetables provide us with necessary nutrients to keep us healthy, and we need to include them in our daily diets. You can eat them raw, steamed, baked or roasted. A baked vegetable dish topped with your favorite cheese makes an appetizing dinner.
The vegetables I use in my baked casserole include carrots, French green beans, boiled potatoes, cauliflower florets and sweet green peas. I season the white sauce with salt, pepper and a little garam masala for a slight Indian touch. A small amount of diced paneer (Indian cottage cheese) makes it even tastier, but you can omit this if you don’t want too much dairy.
I typically use low-fat grated mozzarella cheese as my topping because it melts well and tastes delicious. For a crusty top, add a few French’s canned fried onions or bread crumbs.
Even children who fuss over veggies will enjoy this dish, as it has a creamy texture and plenty of cheese and will remind them of their favorite mac ‘n’ cheese. As the vegetables bake, the heat blends the seasonings with the juices for a delicious combination.
It’s a wholesome dish with plenty of vegetables and very easy to make. You can prepare it during the day and bake it just before dinnertime. Make sure the cheese is grilled and brown on the top before serving.
Enjoy with a glass of good wine and offer the children their favorite Italian soda.
Gitika Baveja is author of “Indian Flavors to Savor: The Easy Home Cooked Way.” For more information and additional recipes, visit www.flavorstosavor.com.
Vegetable Casserole White sauce
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons white flour
• 1 cup combination of milk and water (you could use all milk)
• Salt to taste
• Pinch of black pepper or red chili
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat, stir in flour. Stir and cook approximately 2 minutes on low heat. Do not brown. Gradually stir in milk/water and continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken and is smooth in consistency. Season with salt and black pepper or red chili powder to taste.
• 1/2 cup small cauliflower florets
• 1/2 cup boiled potatoes, diced
• 1/4 cup green beans, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, diced
• Few sweet green peas, shelled
• 1/4 cup paneer (Indian cottage cheese), diced (optional)
• 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
• Pinch black pepper powder (freshly ground) or red chili powder
• Salt to taste
• 1 cup grated cheese (mozzarella or combination of your choice)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Fried onions or bread crumbs (canned works fine)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Heat olive oil in large pan, sauté vegetables and cover 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not overcooked. Add boiled potatoes and season with salt, pepper and garam masala.
Stir-fry until vegetables begin to turn slightly brown for another 2 minutes. Add paneer if using. Add white sauce and mix well until vegetables are well coated.
Put mixture in baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 10 minutes at 350 F.
Change to broil for another 10 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly on top.
Serve hot with crusty, garlic bread or clear soup.
Note: Add diced pieces of grilled chicken breast if desired.