This article is republished with permission from our friends at Mercola.com.
Casseroles are so convenient and one of the best slow-cooked meals. They’re simply delicious, and if there are any leftovers, you can store them in the refrigerator and just reheat them later.
If you’re tired of eating the usual casseroles, you should try this vegetable casserole recipe. Pine nuts, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes make the perfect ingredients for this meatless casserole:
Pine nuts, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes make the perfect ingredients for this vegetable casserole
Tomatoes contain zeaxanthin, a phytonutrient that protects the eye and helps prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Zucchini is a great source of B-complex vitamins such as folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline, which help maintain normal blood sugar regulation
1 eggplant, sliced into chunks
2 pounds zucchini, sliced into chunks*
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
2 medium onions, sliced
4 medium tomatoes, diced*
1 cup coconut oil
2 garlic cloves
½ cup pesto sauce
Blend all the pesto sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Add eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, and onions. Sauté over medium heat in small batches, so there is enough coconut oil remaining for all the vegetables.
Heat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit. Place the sautéed vegetables in a baking dish, leaving the oil used for the vegetables in the saucepan.
Add the tomatoes to the oil in the saucepan, press the garlic cloves into the pan, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour tomato mixture and pesto over the vegetables. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or longer for a more crispy texture.
(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type)
Pesto Baked Tomato-Vegetable Casserole Cooking Tips
To have one of the best slow-cooked meals, make sure you place your casserole in the middle of the oven to ensure that it bakes evenly.1 To achieve a crispy texture, do not cover while baking.
This healthy and delicious casserole tastes even better when made with basil pesto sauce. If you have basil in your garden, you can easily make fresh pesto sauce. You can make fresh pesto sauce in large batches and then freeze it to extend its shelf life. Frozen pesto sauce can be used for up to three months.2
Eggplants provide the meaty texture for this meatless casserole. It is important to pick firm and glossy eggplants with bright green stems. When you push the flesh with your thumb, it should bounce back. If it doesn’t, it’s a clear sign that it may be overripe. Store your eggplants in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to keep them fresh longer.
For zucchinis, I recommend keeping their skin intact when cooking as it contains most of their antioxidants and fiber.
Look for fresh tomatoes that are bright red and do not have any cracks, wrinkles, bruises, or soft spots.3 It is also better if you avoid using metal pans and storage containers to prevent dangerous aluminum being absorbed by the tomatoes and your body.
Why Is Pesto Baked Tomato-Vegetable Casserole Good for You?
This vegetable casserole is a perfect addition to your wholesome diet as it contains the following healthy ingredients:
Zucchini is often classified as a vegetable even though it is actually a fruit. It is low in calories, but is abundant in fiber. It helps slow down aging and prevents disease through the help of its many flavonoid antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, carotenes, and lutein.
Zucchini is a great source of B-complex vitamins such as folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline, which help maintain blood sugar regulation. It also offers minerals such as iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Eggplant may be one of the most underrated vegetables in the US, as the average American only consumes less than one pound of it per year, but it is actually beneficial to include in your diet. Eggplant is rich in various vitamins and minerals such as fiber, folate, potassium, manganese, copper, thiamin, niacin, and vitamins C, K, and B6.
It also contains nasunin, an anthocyanin phytonutrient that fights free radicals and prevents brain damage by protecting the lipids (fats) in your brain. Nasunin provides iron-chelating mechanism, which is beneficial if you are suffering from iron overload.
Tomatoes are known to be beneficial for your health as they contain vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and copper. They are also an abundant source of manganese and vitamins A, C, and K.
Take note that canned tomatoes can be a health hazard. Many cans linings are contaminated with bisphenol A (BPA), which can transfer to the tomatoes (or any food). BPA negatively affects the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in infants, children, and even in fetuses.
Tomatoes contain zeaxanthin, a phytonutrient that protects the eye and helps prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Tomatoes also provide the antioxidant lycopene that protects the skin from ultraviolet damage. Lycopene also helps lessen oxidative stress and lower the risk of osteoporosis.
Pine nuts are rich in monounsaturated fat, protein, iron, and magnesium. They also provide vitamins E and K as well as manganese, which are efficient in maintaining a healthy heart. Another component of pine nuts is pinolenic acid, which supports healthy cholesterol levels.
Pine nuts have a wide range of antioxidants that help combat free radicals and protect your cells from reactive oxygen species (ROS). Pine nuts are also rich in lutein that reduces your risk of AMD (just like tomatoes) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
If this vegetable casserole isn’t one of the best slow-cooked meals you’ve ever had, we don’t know what is. Enjoy!