Vegetable Gratins and Casseroles The Perfect Side Dish for Entertaining
Updated: Apr 1
When I began teaching Convection and Steam cooking 23 years ago, I always roasted a tray of seasonal vegetables alongside meat, fish, or poultry to demonstrate how to use Convection and also the benefits of cooking with Convection. Without fail, at every class, someone would comment on the impressive flavor and texture of the vegetables. In fact, I heard from many people how they had given up eating certain vegetables until they tasted them cooked in Convection.
While roasted vegetables are a great accompaniment for easy oven meals, vegetable gratins, and casseroles are ideal for special occasion meals or buffets especially since multiple dishes can be baked in Convection at one time.
Convection and Steam Oven Tools for Preparing Vegetable Gratins
Vegetable gratins do require advance preparation however there are ways you can use your Convection and Steam ovens to simplify preparation. Here are a few suggestions and tips for some of our favorite vegetable gratins.
Eggplant Casserole with Peppers, Olives, and Anchovies
This recipe from the Mediterranean makes good use of foods that are in abundance during the summer months and is delicious served alongside roast lamb or grilled fish. Roasting the peppers is an essential step that can be easily done in the oven.
Line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil, shiny side down, cut the peppers in half length-wise, and remove the seeds. Set the oven in the Broil mode at 475℉ or Hi and cook with the door closed until the skin is blackened, approximately 8 - 10 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven and cover the peppers with a sheet of paper towels, this will help sweat off the skin. As the peppers sit they will soften and pull away from the skin making it very easy for you to remove the charred skin.
White Bean Casserole with Grilled Artichokes and Olives
If you are looking for ways to incorporate more beans into your diet then this easy recipe is definitely worth trying. The white beans are pretty much a blank canvas that works well with the stronger flavors of the added vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes or roasted peppers could be added in for more color and flavor. When baking a casserole with beans, be sure to add some chicken stock so the beans don’t absorb all the liquid and dry out.
Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin
Vegetables baked in a creamy cheese sauce are always a hit and this recipe can actually come together very quickly by steaming the broccoli and cauliflower together in the Steam oven. Remember if you have a Steam oven, anytime a recipe says to boil water to cook a vegetable, just turn on your Steam oven to the steam setting.
Tips for Baking Casseroles in Convection
Even though you can cook multiple foods at one time in Convection it’s important to plan the cooking so that the temperatures are compatible. For example when roasting meats, ideally begin with a high temperature then add the casserole when the temperature has been reduced.
Also, take into account the timing, and remember that the meat will need to rest before carving.
Some casseroles may require being covered with foil for part of the baking time to ensure the food cooks without drying out however when baking casseroles in a Steam oven, they do not need to be covered.
One of the best features of Convection cooking is the ability to cook multiple foods at one time without having to change the rack positions for even cooking but remember when cooking a Convection meal, the first step is to arrange the oven racks to accommodate the food before you heat the oven.
Breakfast casseroles are wonderful for entertaining but they do have a long cooking time and in my next post I will review an option for speeding up the cooking using a Convection + Microwave Speed oven.
Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast