Crowd-Pleasing Vegetarian Holiday Dishes

Featured Article, Healthy Recipes and Nutrition
on December 10, 2014
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Mozzarella and Parmesan (2)
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Make your turkeys and hams jealous this season with decadent vegetable casseroles. These dishes are so satisfying and rich, they can (and should) be served as main dishes, especially appealing to the vegetarians in the crowd.

Note: All of these dishes can be prepped up to 24 hours in advance and baked just prior to serving. Refrigerate until ready to bake.

Cauliflower, Artichoke and Leek Casserole with Smoked Gouda 

Cauliflower, Artichoke and Leek Casserole with Smoked Gouda (1)

Notes: If desired, for a little tang, add 1-2 diced Granny Smith apples to the mixture when you fold everything together. You can also use smoked mozzarella cheese or smoked Gouda with bacon (of course, adding bacon means the dish will no longer be for the vegetarians at the table)!

 Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 head cauliflower florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 leeks, rinsed well and chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14-ounce can whole or quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 16 ounces light sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook the orzo according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft and just beginning to brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add the cauliflower, cooked orzo, reserved 1/2 cup of water, artichoke hearts, sour cream, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  5. Fold in 3/4 cup of the Gouda cheese. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish (mixture may seem like there’s too much liquid, but it’s OK!) and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.
  6. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Serves 6-8

 

Spinach, Mushroom and Brown Rice Casserole with Caramelized Pearl Onions and Garlic-Panko

Spinach, Mushroom and Brown Rice Casserole with Caramelized Pearl Onions and Garlic-Panko (1)

Ingredients: 

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 14 ounces frozen pearl or petite whole onions, thawed
  • 16 ounces sliced cremini (“baby Bella”) mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 (12-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, or 1 package 90-second brown rice (Ready Rice), cooked according to package directions
  • 2 (8-ounce) containers light vegetable cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions are golden brown on all sides, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and release liquid. Add the thyme, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute, until the thyme is fragrant. Remove from heat and transfer the onions and mushrooms to a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, rice and cream cheese. Mix well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the panko and garlic powder. Sprinkle the mixture over the spinach mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Serves 6-8

 

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Mozzarella and Parmesan

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Mozzarella and Parmesan (2)

 Ingredients: 

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 15-ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Coat a stove-top grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Working in batches, cook the eggplant and zucchini slices on the hot pan until golden brown on both sides (about 1 to 2 minutes per side), seasoning the vegetables with salt and pepper as you go.
  3. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini slices in the bottom of the prepared dish, covering the surface (slightly overlap the vegetables if necessary).
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese, pesto, and oregano. Spread the mixture over the eggplant and zucchini slices. Top with one can of the tomatoes. Top with the remaining eggplant and zucchini slices and the remaining can of tomatoes. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and then sprinkle the parmesan cheese over top.
  5. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 to 20 more minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Serves 6-8