This is one of those dishes, when you throw all vegetables you have with some bacon in heavy cast iron casserole dish with lid, put it into the hot oven, and in 40-50min dinner is ready.The differences in look and taste of all vegetables, cooked in cast iron dish, compared to any other casserole dish, were remarkable. It took only 45min to have potatoes and carrots soft and buttery. However, soft vegetables, including zucchini and eggplant, kept their colour and shape, and did not disintegrate, as often happens with these vegetables in casseroles.
I used very little liquid, and was afraid, that vegetables on the bottom will burn. It did not happen. The result was a surprise in the speed of cooking, and in taste of vegetables. Considering the convenience of the dish, I will cook it often.
You can use any choice of vegetables and any type of bacon or ham. I used:
- 2 potatoes
- 4 slices of Kassler ham
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 1 sweet red chili pepper
- 2 onions
- 3 carrots
- 1 eggplant
- 1 Lebanese zucchini
- 8 mushrooms
- 7 cloves of garlic in skin
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock (water will do)
- 4 tea spoons of my own garlic and chilli paste
- pinch of fennel seeds
- 2 thyme sticks
- 3 table spoons of olive oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
- cut bacon/ham in narrow strips and 1 onion in rings
- lightly fry onion with bacon in 1 table spoon of olive oil with a pinch of fennel seeds
- slice, dice and chop vegetables
- place them in a low cast iron casserole dish, drizzle with 2 table spoons of olive oil
- use your hands to mix vegetables and to cover their surface in oil
- spread fried bacon with onion on top
- add garlic and chilli paste, thyme, salt and pepper
- add stock or water
- cover the dish with a lid and cook in preheated to 200C fan forced oven
- check carrots and potatoes after 40 min, when they are soft , the dish is ready
Casserole dish can be heated on a cooktop first, to speed the cooking process. I forgot to do it, and because the dish was big and heavy, it took some time to heat it in the oven. I expected cooking time to be more than one hour, but the dish was ready in 45in.
Even when stirred, vegetables did not lose their shape. To my surprise zucchini had some colour left in them, and nothing was burned. Flavours were amazing, which I attribute to 2 special ingredients – wonderful ham from Wursthutte and organic tomatoes, we received this year again, as a gift from our friends. Juicy vegetables kept their juices inside and there was not any liquid on the bottom, which usually happens when so many vegetables are cooked together.
Cooking vegetable dishes in cast iron heavy pans with lid through the whole cooking time, is a good option for easy winter dinners.